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Lucas van Leyden (Leiden 1494-1533)

Soldiers giving the Saviour to Drink

signed ‘L’ (in the plate) and with inscription ‘R800’ and Vente Danz 1883’ (verso) engraving
11.1 x 8.4 cm
The New Hollstein 73-c[1], a good, but later impression, trimmed just within the platemark, but outside the composition, trimmed to the composition along the right edge, the paper is in generally good condition

Anonymous sale; Alexandre Danz, Leipzig, 29 October 1883, L’œuvre Presque complet de Lucas de Leyde [...], lot 50 (‘Superbe épreuve, elle est bien conservée’).
Samuel Solomonovitsch Scheikevitch (1842-1908), Moscow and Paris (cf. L. 2264).

According to Karel van Mander, Lucas van Leyden was born as the son of the Dutch painter Huych Jacobsz. (circa 1470-circa 1536), in 1494. It is perhaps not surprising, given his father’s occupation, that Van Leyden embarked on his own artistic journey early on. At the tender age of nine, Van Leyden was already producing engravings and by the age of twelve he sold his first painting. The artist started his training with his father and was later apprenticed with the painter Cornelis Engebrechtsz. (circa 1462–1527). After his training under Engebrechtsz., he is mentioned as a member of the Crossbowmen between 1514 and 1519.
While he was a highly gifted painter and draughtsman, he is primarily celebrated for his printed œuvre. His extensive and diverse body of printed works, which consisted of engravings, etchings and woodcuts, established his status as the preeminent and influential graphic artist in the Netherlands during his time and he generally seen as the Dutch counterpart of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). In the present engraving, Van Leyden depicted Christ sitting on a rock, wearing the crown of thorns. Two Roman soldiers are standing next to him on either side; one offers him a drink from a bowl, while the other is holding a jug. According to the gospel of Matthew, it was customary among the Romans to offer men who were to be hung a drink consisting of a mixture of cheap vinegar and gall. The purpose of this drink was to numb the pain someone would endure on the cross. However, Christ would not take it, as he wanted to have a clear mind. Van Leyden depicts the pivotal moment where Christ is offered the drink but refuses to consume it.

[1] J.P. Filedt Kok,' The New Hollstein. Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts. 1450- 1700. Lucas van Leyden', Rotterdam, 1996, p. 92.

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