Code: 10008


H: 10.3" (26.2 cm)W: 6.8" (17.3 cm)

$14,000.00 Approx €12378.43, £10385.76

HANS BROSAMER ?Fulda c. 1500 – 1552 Frankfurt

Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and Saint John.

Engraving; 1542. Hollstein 7, the first of two states. Hollstein notes that, according to Paul Davidsohn, [1] early impressions are before retouching. This is the artist s largest engraving and arguably his masterpiece in the medium. We know of no other impressions in recent years. A very fine, early impression in very good, fresh condition; on old repair at the tip of the lower left corner.


Brosamer made some thirty-seven engravings, Old and New Testament, mythological subjects and portraits. His engravings are now all rare. His small engravings are closely related to contemporary Little Masters, but his Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and Saint John shows an understanding of Netherlandish engraving of the period, such as Frans Crabbe.


A comparison with what must have been the most well known version of the subject, Dürer s engraving from the Engraved Passion[2] shows the originality of Brosamer s conception. First, Brosamer made his engraving more than twice the size of the versions by Dürer, Pencz and Aldegrever[3]. Then, Brosamer must have used an extremely delicate engraving tool, giving the resulting linear structure a rich and nuanced play of light and shade and, equally noteworthy, giving striking spatial presences to the figures of the Virgin and Saint John. Wrapped in folds of heavy drapery and inhabiting ample open space, the two figures are now powerfully sculptural, unlike Dürer s figures.


Brosamer also changed the orientation of the two figures; the Madonna is less prayerful and more contemplative as she looks up at Christ, and John, now with his back to the viewer, also looks up at Christ. The body of Christ is now frontal, defined by vigorous, knotty musculature, and his face, with half-open eyes and grimacing mouth has exceptional immediacy. The figure of Christ now dominates the image, and while the angels holding tablets of lapidary script from Isaiah and the Gospel according to St. John, along with inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek make the doctrinal character of this engraving clear, the physicality of the image endows it with an emotional drama that recalls, at least in spiritual terms, both Cranach and Baldung.


Sheet: 262 x 172 mm 10 5/16 x 6 13/16 inches

[1] Sammlung Paul Davidsohn, auction catalogue, C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, 1920, first part, no. 830, where described as “vor der Retouche”. His impression was sold for 1700 marks, the second highest price for any of Davidsohn s Brosamers.

[2] Meder 13; Schoch, Mende, Scherbaum 55.

[3] Dürer s version was copied, more or less, by both Pencz in 1547 (B. 57, Landau 60) and by Aldegrever (B. Holl. 49). Interestingly enough, both Pencz (1547) and Aldegrever (1553) adopted Brosamer s frontal position of Christ.