Lansquenets, here depicted in splendid dress and feathered hats standing in a landscape, were a loosely associated group of mercenaries, mostly employed in Imperial service. They came into existence towards the end of the 15th century and were a topical subject at the time this engraving was made.
The present work, with other figure studies in Dürer's printed oeuvre, such as The Lady on Horseback and the Lansquenet (lot 9), or the Turkish Family (lot 11), raise the question of the function of prints and their public around 1500. Were they genre scenes to be enjoyed as art for art's sake, or were they meant as models for other artists? Probably both is true. We know from Dürer's own writings that other artists were important customers for his prints. We also know that his prints were widely disseminated and their compositions copied or elements from them appropriated by other painters for centuries to come.
At the same time, images of any kind were still rare and seldom seen outside the confines of churches and the houses of the rich, and the engraving of these rakish warriors in their extravagant attire would have been appreciated simply for being picturesque.