Israhel van Meckenem, Samson Slaying the Lion, engraving

Germany, second half of the 15th century AD

Ferdinand Columbus owned an impression of this print

Israhel van Meckenem (1450-1503) was the most productive engraver of the fifteenth century; around twenty per cent of all German copperplate engravings of the early period originate from his hand. He is notorious for copying the work of other engravers, including 200 prints by Master ES and three engravings by Schongauer. He even reworked 41 plates by Master ES that had worn down in the printing process.

Although small, this print is a powerful representation of Samson overcoming the lion. Samson's stylized hair and the lion's mane reflect the artist's training as a goldsmith. Like most of his work the print is signed with his prominent monogram.

An impression of this print was part of the now-lost collection of Ferdinand Columbus (1488-1539), son of Christopher Columbus. An inventory in Seville describes in careful detail 3,204 prints that once formed part of this outstanding library, which at the time of his death contained 15,000 volumes. Although Ferdinand's print collection has now vanished, the Seville inventory has allowed its partial reconstruction using other impressions of the prints from around the world.

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More information


M. McDonald, Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissanc (London, British Museum Press, 2005)


Height: 135.000 mm
Width: 103.000 mm

Museum number

PD E.1-95 cat. no. 24



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