Frans Crabbe van Espleghem (Netherlandish, Mechelen ca. 1480–1553 Mechelen)
Sheet: 4 1/16 x 2 13/16 in. (10.3 x 7.1 cm)
Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1998
Not on view
This riveting engraving of an African is one of the rare depictions, if not the only one, of a black man as an independent subject in Northern European fifteenth and sixteenth-century art. Most likely not a portrait, the figure has a generalized character; he may have been intended to represent the African king from the Biblical scene of the Adoration of the Magi, often represented at this time as an African figure with a long jeweled earring. Characteristic of Crabbe's prints is his experimentation with ways of expressing tones and textures with the printed line. Here he contrasted the varied shades of the figure's dark skin, delineated with concentric lines that encircle the eye, with the many little curls of the hair. This is the only impression known of this print.
Inscription: Dated in the plate 1522 (in mirror image)
Vendor: Hill-Stone, Inc. Donor: Louis V. Bell Fund Donor: Joseph Pulitzer Bequest
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," February 8, 1999–May 3, 1999.
Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Perrin Stein, Nadine Orenstein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998-1999." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 57, no. 2, Autumn 1999, p. 27, ill.