Ornament with Two Genii Riding on Two Chimeras


Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), Ornament with Two Genii Riding on Two Chimeras, engraving, 1544 [with initials and date in the plate]. References: Bartsch 236, Hollstein 241, Pauli 241, third state (of 4, but see note below). In very good condition, trimmed on the borderline, slight thinning bottom verso, 1 1/4 x 4 inches.

A superb impression; impressions of this quality are of the greatest rarity in today’s print market.

The state progression of this print is subtle, e.g., the second state is identified as one hatching on the shank of the genius on the left, the third as “with a third diagonal hatching on some parts of the background”, and the fourth as a fourth vertical hatching between the body of the left genius and the back of the chimera. We have had difficulty assessing the state but believe this is an early impression based on it’s extraordinary quality.

Beham was one of the Northern Renaissance Little Masters, so called because of their eminence in producing small-scale engravings such as Ornament with Two Genii Riding on Two Chimeras. Beham was born in Nuremberg in 1500, and may have trained under Durer, though his training is no more certain than that of his younger brother Barthel.  He made his first engraving in 1518, and later became known for producing woodcuts, as well as engravings.

This is one of the tiny prints Beham which no doubt served as the basis for decoration of objects during the Northern Renaissance, objects such as clocks, locks, cups, ceramics, stained glass windows, boxes, cabinets, swords, etc.