Virgin and Child with Parrot


Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), Virgin and Child with the Parrot,  engraving, 1549,  [with the initials monogram and date in the plate upper left, and the title S. Maria upper right ]. References: Bartsch 19, Pauli, Hollstein 12. First state (of three). In generally good condition, on old laid paper, soiling verso, slight staining recto, trimmed on or just into the platemark but generally within the borderline top and sides, 3 1/16 x 2 1/4 inches, archival mounting.

A very good impression of this rarity.

The first state is before the 3rd hatching in the shadow near the foot of the Virgin. In the second state this 3rd diagonal hatching is added; in the third state cross hatching in the shadow of the Virgin’s gown above the girdle is added, and the tree branch in the upper right corner is extended.

Beham was one of the Northern Renaissance Little Masters, so called because of their eminence in producing small-scale engravings such as the Virgin and Child with a Pear. 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.

The parrot perched on the Virgin’s right hand may be a suggestion of the state of Paradise. The pear in her left hand (also featured in the Virgin with the Pear of Durer, Beham and others) has been considered as a pacifier as opposed to the “apple of discord” or temptation.