Panel with a Mascaron


Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), Panel with a Mascaron, engraving, 1543 [with the initials monogram and date in the plate]. Reference: Bartsch 231, Hollstein 235. Second state (of 2). In very good condition, with thread margins, on a laid paper; 1 15/16 x 3 1/8 inches.

Provenance: H. Steibel (Lugt 1367); unidentified collector (Lugt 23686) (both collector’s stamps verso).

A fine strong impression of this famous image; clearly an early impression of this state.

The composition was completed in the first state, but there were still some white spots in the background; these were filled in by dots in the second state.

A mascaron is a grotesque head or face, used to adorn keystones and other prominent architectural elements. It is often scary or off-putting, thereby providing a measure of security for whatever it’s affixed to.

Sebald Beham was born in Nuremberg in 1500. In 1525 he and his brother Barthold, together with Georg Pencz, were thrown out of Nuremberg following an investigation into their agnosticism, but they returned the next year. Sebald continued to get into trouble: he was expelled again for publishing an essay on the proportions of the horse which was taken from Durer’s unpublished Art of Measurement.