British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 325.000 mm
Width: 225.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
Urs Graf, Young Woman with an Old Man and a Youth, woodcut
Switzerland, around AD 1511
Ferdinand Columbus owned an impression of this print
Urs Graf was a prolific printmaker, producing mainly designs for book illustrations. This is the only known surviving impression of this print.
Graf's single-leaf prints are remarkable for their inventive treatment of various subjects often to do with the relations between the sexes. During his life, Graf was frequently in trouble with the authorities in Basel for various offences, including beating his wife. His drawings are often satirical attacks against women. The theme of mercenary love, where young women marry or exchange sexual favours for money, was very popular during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Here an old man gropes a young girl and as payment she takes money from his sack to give to the young man at her side.
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.
M. McDonald, Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissanc (London, British Museum Press, 2005)