- Museum number
Mining; men working with picks and sledgehammers, two men driving wedges into an outcrop of rock at l, ladder at right and a loaded truck being pushed from a higher entrance, huts behind at left and r, circular
Pen and brown ink, with grey wash
- Production date
- 1590-1600 (circa)
Height: 225 millimetres
Width: 225 millimetres (diameter)
- Curator's comments
- The historical connection with Holbein of this sheet is more interesting than its authenticity, which seems unlikely. A list in the Fagel archives made in 1717 of the drawings in the collection describes two sheets acquired in Italy, which may be a reference to the present drawing together with the other one mentioned in the Fagel sale catalogue, as 'La minière de Bâle, deux feuilles' (information kindly supplied by Dr J. Heringa, Rijksarchiv in de Provincie Drenthe, Assen, Holland). The second sheet may otherwise refer to a copy of the design now in the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (Masson Collection, no. 91) of which only the upper two-thirds survives. A further, weak, copy probably dating from the late sixteenth century is in the Kunstmuseum, Basel (inv. no. 1960.44). Ganz was not impressed by the quality of this drawing and regarded it as a sketch for goldsmith's work of some unspecified kind, although he does place it within the artist's second English period, 1534-43. He thought that its original state had been severely weakened by the process of taking an offset, and its character obscured by later overworking in brown ink. Rowlands' assertion that this is a design for stained glass is convincing, although he considered it to be an authentic drawing by Holbein of about 1520-22, which now seems unlikely. Müller considers it to be much later in date, perhaps around 1600. The survival of various drawn copies of the composition certainly indicate a prime version by Holbein, which has not survived. The composition was evidently well known in Basel in the sixteenth century, as we find that Hieronymus Vischer (1564-1631) based one of his mining scenes upon it in the 'Münz- und Mineralienbuch' (Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. A λ. 11 46a) that he decorated with illuminations for Andreas Ryff of Basel in 1594. Ryff had acquired through his wife a stake in the silver mines at Giromagny near Belfort, at the southern extremity of the Vosges mountains not far from Basel.
The sheet has a perspex verso but it is difficult to verify watermark evidence, because the drawing is on an old backing which has thinned a lot at the edges, and cannot safely be removed.
Lit from Rowlands 1993
E. His, Prussian Jahrbuch, xv, 1894, pp. 207ff., repr.; BM Guide, 1895, p. 58, no. 290; LB, ii, pp. 329f., no. 14; Chamberlain, i, p. 80, repr.; Ganz, p. 56, no. 255, repr.; Braunfels, pp. 28, 58, repr.;}. Heringa, Ned. Kunst. Jaarb., xxxii, 1982, pp. 80, 94, fig. 18; BM Dürer and Holbein, pp. 224-5, no. 191, repr.
Further lit: L.Hendrix, 'Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Dürer and Holbein', exh.cat. Los Angeles and Saint Louis, 2000, no. 144
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1895 BM London, Guide Drawings Old Masters, Malcolm Collection, no. 290
1988, Jul-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 191
2000 Jul-Sep, Getty, LA, 'Painting on Light' no. 144
2000/01 Nov-Jan, St. Louis AM, 'Painting on Light', no.144
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number