Triumphal Procession of the Noble, Glorious Women
Hans Sebald Beham (German, 1500–1550)
Bartsch 143; P. 244 i/III
Sheet: 2.6 x 13.8 cm (1 x 5 7/16 in.) Platemark: 2.1 x 13.5 cm (13/16 x 5 5/16 in.) Mount: 11.1 x 23.9 cm (4 3/8 x 9 7/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Beham’s art could be just as witty as it was exquisite, and the mood could be ribald or high minded. His triumphal procession of noble and glorious women seems to tend toward the latter. Beham certainly knew much larger triumphal processions such those designed by Albrecht Dürer and Andrea Mantegna. Through his contacts with intellectuals who had traveled to Rome, such as his patron Albrecht of Brandenburg, he may also have had fairly good knowledge of ancient Roman sculptural reliefs. In any case, this miniature engraving is a light-hearted twist on a theme usually presented in more imposing form.
Here, sprightly horses pull a carriage bearing a semi-nude couple crowned with laurel wreaths. They are accompanied by fully-clothed woman carrying symbols of glory: torches, palm fronds, and trophies. A woman blowing a trumpet leads the way. To the rear are male warriors on horse and on foot. The wagon itself has an elaborate classicizing design that seems part chariot and part boat.
Though the subject is clearly identified by an inscription, it is unclear if Beham intended a direct literary reference. The print may draw on the idea of the nine worthy women of the Old and New Testaments and the pagan era. It seems to place femininity in a more positive light than Lucas van Leyden did in his earlier series on the power of women.
Verso, lower left in graphite pencil:c9679
Verso, center in graphite pencil: c19121
Verso, lower left in graphite pencil: A Slg [?]
Verso, lower left, stamped in purple ink -- mark of Heinrich Stiebel (Lugt 1367)
Verso, lower left in graphite pencil -- c9679
Verso, center in graphite pencil -- c19121
Verso, lower left in graphite pencil -- A Slg [?]
Heinrich Stiebel (1851-about 1910, Frankfurt, Lugt 1367); probably sold, Frankfurt, Prestel, 10-16 November 1920; Colnaghi (London), apparently twice, inv. nos. c9679 and c19121; Hill-Stone (New York); from whom puchased by MFA, 19 September 2007.
Museum purchase with funds donated by Robert and Barbara Wheaton