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drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1848,1013.128

  • Description

    An archer spanning a crossbow with a cranequin; with a study of a crossbow Pen and brown ink Verso: Two archers spanning crossbows; with separate studies of a belthook and a double hook for a windlass Pen and brown ink

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1470-1497 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 276 millimetres
    • Width: 184 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Summary of J.Rowlands, 'Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German-speaking regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum: the Fifteenth Century, and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530', London, BM Press, 1993, no. 6:

    'There are studies from life executed on both sides of the sheet, and although the figures on the verso are rapidly made in an abbreviated form, they are clearly by the same hand as the drawing of the crossbowman on the recto, which has a more finished appearance. The drawings demonstrate different types of spanning devices for a crossbow in current use at the end of the fifteenth century, and were perhaps made in connection with a series to demonstrate the mechnanics of the weapon. The crossbow on the lower half of the recto is the most detailed study and has a distorted perspective which was presumably made in order to show as much of the mechanism as possible. It is a crossbow with a cranequin, an early example of reduction gearing commonly used on sporting and hunting crossbows from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Comparable types of composite crossbow and cranequin of the late fifteenth century, German in origin, are in the Armouries at the Tower of London (inv. nos. xi. 104 and xi. 105). Other examples of German crossbows of this date are in the Wallace Collection (inv. nos. A. 1033, A. 1034; Mann, ‘Arms and Armour’, pp. 477ff., pls. 158, 160). The figures on the upper part of the recto and on the left of the verso are shown winding the handle which operates the cranequin in order to span the bow.
    A further spanning device, the belthook (a similar example of which is in the Livrustkammaren, Stockholm), is drawn along the upper edge of the verso and shown in use by the kneeling figure on the right. It was worn attached to the belt of its owner, who operated it by engaging the hook over the bowstring, as seen in the drawing, and straightening his body with his foot braced in a stirrup attached to the end of the tiller. The double hook seen underneath the belthook is probably for a windlass, an alternative spanning method which employed a series of pulleys. A comparable iron double hook from a crossbow windlass of English origin, dated to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, is in the Museum of London (inv. no. A.22501). Further drawings of a windlass may originally have been alongside but have been lost through the trimming of the sheet'
    Additional information:
    The amount of mechanical detail apparent in these drawings makes it very unlikely that they were made, as Parker suggested, for a composition of the martyrdom of St Sebastian. Winzinger's attribution to Martin Schongauer is unconvincing, as the proportions of these figures are quite different to those in Schongauer's drawings. The style and technique of the drawings do, however, indicate an artist of the Upper Rhineland rather than a Nuremberg master as Parker originally suggested. The treatment of the hands and faces is close to the work of the Master of the Drapery Studies to whom Rowlands attributed the drawing, although the subject and lack of drapery is not characteristic of his work. Rowlands compared the face and hands of the crossbowman on the recto in drawings by the Master of the Drapery Studies in Copenhagen (see M.Bogh Rasmussen, 'German Drawings before 1540, Statens Museum for Kunst' Copenhagen, 2000, no. 5) and Hamburg (Staatliche Kunsthalle, inv. no. 22720 verso; one of a series of twelve drawings of the ‘Symbolum Apostolicum’ see Andersson, Detroit, pp. 112ff. for other examples of the series). Roth does not accept the attribution to the Master of the Drapery Studies and compares this sheet to an 'Ecce Homo' in Houston (Museum of Fine Arts) which he also rejects.


    Lit from Rowlands 1993: BM Guide, 1928, p. 33, no. 302 (as Nuremberg school, c. 1490); Winzinger, Schongauer, pp. 66ff, nos. 35 (recto) and 36 (verso), repr.; J. Rosenberg, MD, iii, no. 4, 1965, p. 401; BM Dürer and Holbein, pp. 43-44, no. 22, repr.

    Further literature: M.Roth, unpublished dissertation, 'Die Zeichnungen des 'Meisters der Coburger Rundblätter', Berlin, 1988, no. 146

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Rowlands 1993 6 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (German Roy XVc)

  • Exhibition history

    1928, British Museum London, Guide to Albrecht Dürer, p.33
    1988, July-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 22

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1848

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1848,1013.128

An archer spanning a crossbow with a cranequin; with a study of a crossbow Pen and brown ink Verso: Two archers spanning crossbows; with separate studies of a belthook and a double hook for a windlass Pen and brown ink

Recto

An archer spanning a crossbow with a cranequin; with a study of a crossbow Pen and brown ink Verso: Two archers spanning crossbows; with separate studies of a belthook and a double hook for a windlass Pen and brown ink

Image description

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