Doric Columns I and II


Hans Sebald Beham (1500-50), Doric Columns I and II, engravings, 1543. References: Bartsch 247 and 248; Pauli 257 and 258, first state of two. With the monogram, date and extensive annotation in the plate. In very good condition, on old laid paper. Both prints engraved on one sheet, and so with margins; each 3 x 2, the sheet 3 1/2 x 5 3/8 inches; archival mounting.

Both fine early impressions, with the guidelines for the lettering still clearly printing; these prints are rarely seen and very rare as printed on a single sheet.

Provenance: Dr. Karl Herweg (a well-known collector of Northern Renaissance prints); and an unidentified collector’s mark (KB?, not found in Lugt).

Beham, like the other illustrious German Little Masters of the Northern Renaissance including his brother Barthel, Heinrich Aldegrever, Albrecht Altdorfer, Georg Pencz and others, made a number of prints which were used as decorative models or with decorative applications in mind.

In this case the columns appear to have been referred to and perhaps illustrated in the writings of Vitruvius (active c. 90-20 BC),  a Roman writer on architecture, whose writings were highly influential during the Renaissance. The first printed version of his works appeared in the late 15th C., and the first illustrated edition in 1511. Beham’s engravings may have been a way to circulate the illustrations widely, and they’re an aesthetic treat regardless of their function when issued.