It is believed that The Great Strange Dance of Life was originally published by Charles Carrington in a limited edition of 100 copies, its four portfolios containing some of the most poignant yet bizarre erotic illustrations to come out of the fin de siècle. The references to the industrial revolution, to the Victorian ethic, to the problems of youth with its forbidden erotic fantasies, and aged men gasping for their last leap at sexual pleasure, indicate a strong sensitivity on the part of van Maële.
Many of the works bear captions in idiomatic French that are amusing and satirical, and several of the works bear dedications to friends of the artist. All of the works bear out a vivid imagination, a master’s hand with drypoint, and a great craftsman’s sense of the art of etching.
A selection of the etchings from La grande danse macabre des vifs were used later to illustrate a 1930 edition of Pierre Louÿs’ Manuel de civilité pour les petites filles. You can see the repurposed set of plates here.