- Museum number
Two mercenaries and a woman with Death in a tree; the skeletal figure of death above the soldiers pointing at an hourglass, landscape background. 1524
- Production date
Height: 203 millimetres
Width: 116 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- BM also has two impressions of a copy after Graf's design by Liefrinck, see E,7.482 and 485.
See also G. Bartrum, 'German Renaissance Prints', exh. cat., BM, London 1995, no.225.
Text from Bartrum 1995
Literature: Bartsch, 16; His, 280; F. Bächtiger, 'Jahrbuch des Bernischen Historischen Museums', LI-LII, 1971-72, Bern, 1975, pp. 244f; Hollstein, p.54, 28
This is one of Graf's most successful single-sheet woodcuts and exemplifies his mature style; the block-cutter is thought to be Hans Lützelburger, who cut Holbein's series of the 'Dance of Death' (see Bartrum 1995, cat. no. 232 and 1904,0206.76). The subject is a typical theme which recurs constantly in Graf's work, particularly his drawings, and serves as a reminder of his life as a professional soldier as well as the current feelings of misogyny which pervade so much of the art of this period. With clues provided by the different clothes and weapons, the two mercenaries have been interpreted as a contrast between, on the right, the Swiss 'Eidgenosse', who strides forward purposefully, his lance held erect and his right hand poised to draw his sword; and on the left, the German 'Landsknecht' who has an ostentatious beard and who stands listlessly under a tree resting his left hand on his hip. The woman with a smirking expression represents a personification of vice who tempts the soldiers away from their duty, particularly the 'Landsknecht' to whom she is nearest; and the transitoriness of life is emphasised by the figure of Death who, unnoticed by the figures, is seated above them in the tree indicating his hour-glass with his finger.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995 Jun-Oct, BM, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1490-1550', no.225
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number