Saint Sebastian, attributed to Master of the Playing Cards (German, active ca. 1425–50), Engraving

Saint Sebastian

attributed to Master of the Playing Cards (German, active ca. 1425–50)
15th century
sheet: 5 9/16 x 8 1/4 in. (14.1 x 20.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
Not on view
Only two early impressions of this print are known. Its technique, consisting of strongly outlined forms modeled with light evenly traced parallel strokes, approaches that employed in drawings of this period. The print has traditionally been assigned to the Master of the Playing Cards, an artist probably active in Alsace, though the rather unstable poses and the muddled formation of the small hill on the left have led some scholars to question the attribution. The overall polished technique and details such as the naturalistic rendering of the saint's chest suggest that the engraver, if not the master himself, was certainly an accomplished artist closely familiar with his work. As in the Master's more securly attributed prints, the technique approaches that found in contemporary drawings--strongly outlined forms modeled with extremely fine parallel strokes. These thin, sharp, and slightly fuzzy lines were probably created with a drypoint stylus rather than a burin, the tool more typically associated with engraving, which produces slightly broader and more tapered lines. Saint Sebastian, a frequent subject of prints from this period, was regarded as one of the main guardian saints against the plague.
Princes of Liechtenstein, Vaduz and Vienna
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Print in the North," May 06, 1997 - July 13, 1997.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 25, 2005–July 24, 2005.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," March 26, 2012–July 19, 2012.

Lehrs I.93.36; Bartsch X.27.49
Johann David Passavant Le Peintre-Graveur. Leipzig, 1860, cat. no. 147 (vol. 2), p. 231.

Adam von Bartsch "Le Peintre Graveur". Leipzig, 1876, cat. no. X.27.49, p. 27.

Max Lehrs Geschichte und kritischer katalog des deutschen, niederländischen und französischen Kupferstichs im XV Jahrhundert (History and critical catalog of German, Netherlandish, and French copper engravings in the 15th century). 9 vols., 1908-1934, State I, cat. no. I.36, p. 93.

Suzanne Boorsch, Nadine Orenstein "The Print in the North: The Age of Albrecht Durer and Lucas van Leyden." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 54, no. 4, Spring 1997, p. 13.