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    Sale 2445 | Lot 8
    Estimate: $120,000 - $180,000
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    • Sale 2445 Lot 8

      A Censer.

      Engraving, circa 1485. 266x205 mm; 10 1/2x8 1/8 inches, silhouetted. A superb, richly-inked, dark impression of this exceedingly scarce, early and important engraving, with no sign of wear.

      We have found only two other impressions of this subject at auction in the past 75 years (Kornfeld, Bern, 1966, lot 285, upper part silhouetted; and Sotheby's, London, 1987, lot 7, silhouetted). There are only 9 impressions of this subject in North American public collections; Lehrs cites 28 known impressions (8 of which are silhouetted).

      Though some print historians have considered this a design model Schongauer made for goldsmiths, more recent scholarship places it as an accutely-detailed still life study done after a gold or silver censer, rather than Schongauer's own invention. According to Shestack, Schongauer likely made this engraving, "To demonstrate his technical virtuosity and for no purpose beyond the creation of a beautiful image. The artful arrangement of the chains, the manner in which they spread on the ground, supports [the] contention that Schongauer was more concerned with aesthetic problems than practical ones," (Fifteenth Century Engravings of Northern Europe, Washington, D.C., 1967, number 110).

      Shestack notes that the impression of this subject in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., "Like about half of the other forty surviving examples, was cut out around the contours and silhouetted on a second sheet of old paper. The reason this was done is unknown." Bartsch 107; Lehrs 106.

      Estimate $120,000 - 180,000