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Heinrich Aldegrever (1502-1555/61)
Heinrich Aldegrever (1502-1555/61)

Lazarus begging for Crumbs from Dives's Table (Luke 16:19-31)

Details
Heinrich Aldegrever (1502-1555/61)
Lazarus begging for Crumbs from Dives's Table (Luke 16:19-31)
signed and dated 'HIMRICH ALDE.GR/AVE' and 'AG 1552' on two tablets (recto) and numbered '442' (verso)
traces of black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, the outlines incised
36 x 4¼ in. (78 x 108 mm.)

Lot Essay

A study in reverse for the second print in the series of five engravings of The Story of Dives and Lazarus (Bartsch VIII, 44-8). This newly discovered sheet is the only known preparatory drawing for that series.
The print was executed two years after the drawing in 1554, and varies from it only in minor details. The dates are different and the signature on the tablet hanging on the column reads 'ALDE GRAVE IN SVEATO FECIT' rather than just the name of the artist as in the drawing. The utensils on the table are more precisely rendered in the print, while the legs are riveted to the cauldron rather than just attached to it.
It is not unusual for Aldegrever to execute his drawings some years earlier than his prints: there is a similar time lag for Bartsch VIII, 22, for which the drawing is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (A. Shestack, 'Some Preliminary Drawings by Heinrich Aldegrever', Master Drawings, 1970, VIII, pp. 141-8, pl. 31), and Bartsch VIII, 38-9, for which drawings are in the National Gallery of Art, Washington (A. Shestack, op. cit., pls. 33b, 34a).
These drawings can be grouped stylistically with sheets drawn by Aldegrever from 1549 till his death. Aldegrever tends to show a more painterly style in these, using a thin brush and wash for the shadows, rather than crosshatching as in the earlier drawings, A. Shestack, op. cit., pp. 142-5. This freer style left more room for improvisation: the utensils on the table were finished more precisely at the engraving stage. Other drawings from this period are in Leipzig, Washington, Frankfurt and Amsterdam and formerly in the Kunsthalle, Bremen, A. Shestack, op. cit., pls. 33a-37c.
Aldegrever, whose real name was Trippenmeker (clog maker), worked in Soest in Westphalia (the Latin inscription on the print, Sueato, may refer to the city) and was a prolific engraver, producing more than 300 prints. He trained first as a goldsmith and engraved a large number of ornamental designs for metalwork. His first known pictures are the wings and predella of an altarpiece in the church of Saint Peter, Soest, which he signed with his real name. It is only later, in 1527, that he used the name Aldegraver, spelt as two words, which allowed him to sign with the letters A and a reversed G, imitating Drer's monogram. Aldegrever's early training is reflected in the small size of his engravings and his care in producing the preparatory drawings. These are always of exactly the same size as the prints and meticulously finished. Although he is not known to have travelled to Nuremberg his style is often compared to that of Drer and the kleinmeisters of Nuremberg such as Pencz and the Behams.
Aldegrever became a Protestant in 1531, at the same time as many of Soest's citizens, and after that date produced mainly prints of genre and Old Testament subjects. The parable of Dives and Lazarus comes from Saint Luke's Gospel. Lazarus, a pauper, lived by the gate of the house of Dives, a rich man. While Dives lived in luxury, and wore fine clothes, Lazarus survived on the crumbs that fell from his table, dogs licking the sores that covered his body. When the two men died, Dives was cast into Hell, while Lazarus was borne up to Abraham's bosom. Dives looked up to Abraham and Lazarus and asked if Lazarus might dip his finger in water and put it in his mouth in order to sooth his thirst. Abraham refused, saying that while Dives had enjoyed great wealth in his lifetime, Lazarus had only pain, and that this had opened a gap between them which could never be crossed.
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