Sebald Beham, November and December, an engraving

Germany
Probably AD 1547

One of a series of ten engravings of peasant festivals

The two dancing couples each represent a peasant festival identified by the inscriptions above their heads, one in November and the other in December. The details of their clothes and gestures have been carefully observed, and represented with sensitive shading and reflected lights (as under the raised leg of the man vomiting). Such high quality engraving is characteristic of the 'Little Masters' who worked for discriminating print collectors in the tradition established by Dürer.

Paintings and prints of peasant customs were popular in the towns of Germany and the Netherlands during the 1500s. Dürer had given a lead in his engravings of peasants dating from 1514. Town dwellers could feel comfortably superior to these people who lived outside the city walls, with their 'vulgar' customs and unfashionable clothing. Peasants lived on the fringes of the money economy, so even their poverty was a reminder of the hardships from which urban society had escaped.

The monogram - HSB with the S inside the H - used to be interpreted as 'Hans' Sebald Beham. However, when Beham signed his work in full and in surviving records, his name always appears as 'Sebald Beham', so the monogram should perhaps be read as SBH.

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More information

Bibliography

G. Bartrum, German Renaissance prints, 149, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print 1470-155 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 50.000 mm
Width: 72.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1850-11-9-177 (Pauli 182)

PPA60477

Location

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