May 06, 2021 - Sale 2566

Sale 2566 - Lot 30

Price Realized: $ 1,950
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
Standard-Bearer and Drummer.

Engraving, 1544. 70x50 mm; 2 3/4x2 inches, thread margins. First state (of 2). A superb, dark, richly-inked and early impression with very strong contrasts and no sign of wear.

This engraving was made as a sympathetic memorial to the peasants of the 1524-25 German Peasants' War, in which up to 100,000 of some 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers were slaughtered by forces of the aristocracy in the German-speaking areas of Central Europe during a widespread, months-long revolt. It was Europe's largest popular uprising prior to the French Revolution of 1789. The fighting was at its height in the middle of 1525. Seeking influence and freedom, the peasants were spurred on by radical reformers and Anabaptists such as Thomas Müntzer; in contrast, Martin Luther and other Magisterial Reformers condemned the uprising and sided with the nobles. The inscriptions on the engraving identify the drummer as a bumbling "Farmer Conrad" and the standard bearer as "Klaus Swineherd," in the same light as the figures would have been viewed by the aristocracy and their mercenaries.

Both Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550) and his brother Barthel Beham (see lot 32, 1502-1540) were expelled from Nuremberg in 1525, during the upheaval of the Peasants' War, for their atheistic and radical views. This engraving may also have served as a testament to the youthful radicalism of godless artists represented by the Behams. Bartsch 199; Pauli 202.