E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The dance macaber. The Dance of the dead (q.v.) (French, dance macabre.) A dance over which Death presides, supposed to be executed by the dead of all ages and conditions. It is an allegory of the mortality of man, and was a favourite subject of artists and poets between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was originally written in German, then in Latin, and then in French. Some think Macaber was the name of the author, but others think the word is the Arabic makabir, a cemetery. The best illustrations are those by Minden, Lucerne, Lubeck, Dresden, and Basle. Holbeins painting is very celebrated.
What are these paintings on the wall around us? The dance macaber.