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Print by Leonhard Beck: A King dying on a Barrow, or the Death of the Ermine King fr, represented by Childs Gallery

Leonhard Beck

German, c1480-1542

A King dying on a Barrow, or the Death of the Ermine King from “der Weisskunig” of Maximilian I (The White King), Plate 160, c. 1516

Bartsch 80; Hollstein 11, #80; Dodgson II. Most likely from the 1775 edition. The plate number 160 corresponds to the numbering system for the 1775 edition (see Hollstein). A fine impression in fine condition with image trimmed to borderline.

From the “Weisskunig”, illustrations of the youth, education, and deeds of the ‘White King’ a fictitious name referring in actuality to the Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519). With illustrations by Hans Burgkmair, Leonhard Beck, Hans Springinklee, and Hans Leonhard Schäufelein. The majority of the blocks by Burgkmair and Beck. Originally thought to have been written by his secretary Marx Treitzsaurwein, it is now believed that the Emperor directly dictated the account to Treitzsaurwein. Work on the project was begun around the year 1506 and was probably complete in manuscript form by 1515 although the volume itself was not finished during the Emperor’s lifetime. It is believed that the artists worked on the designs for the blocks around the year 1516. Dodgson cites the name of the block cutters as Claus Seman, Alexius Lindt, Cornelius Liefrinck, and Hans Taberith. A total of 251 woodcuts are known.

The first edition of the volume, from which this print most likely derives, was published in 1775 in Vienna by the Abbé Hofstätter in Vienna. (J. Kurzböck, Vienna). This edition was published with 236 blocks that had been recently found in Vienna with 13 original blocks missing. In 1888, a second edition was published by Alwin Schultz, Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses; bd 6. This volume included prints from the original 236 blocks, plus two additional blocks by Springingklee that were left out of the 1775 edition, and zinc plate reproductions of the 13 missing blocks for a total of 251.

Early, pre-first edition proofs of der Weisskunig are very rare, the largest collection known is at the British Museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has an exquisite volume of early proofs including 119 woodcuts, 52 drawings, and manuscript notes. A drawing for A King dying on a Barrow is included in this volume.