HANS BURGKMAIR THE ELDER

1473 − Augsburg − 1531

Des kunig von Schotten begrebnus – The Burial of the King of Scotland ca. 1514/16


illustration for Der Weißkunig (The White King)

woodcut; 221 x 197 mm (8 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches)

Muther 854, no. 139; Hollstein 527; Petermann 207 second state (of six); Geissler 197 fig. 171

PROVENANCE
Princes of Liechtenstein (Lugt 4398)

The Princes of Liechtenstein owned a bound album with 120 Weißkunig woodcuts which was aquired by Max Kade and is now kept in the Graphische Sammlung of the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. Their collection further contained a lot of 21 sheets that was sold separately. All were duplicates already present in the album, 15 of them were early proofs. It is to this latter group that our sheet originally belonged. Petermann could not trace impressions of the first and third states and knows of only 2 impressions of the second state, to which this one has to be added.

The impressive scene with the veiled pleurants surrounding the coffin with long torches depicts the entombment of James IV, King of Scotland, who died on September 9, 1513, at the Battle of Flodden Field. His death relieved Henry VIII on the northern front, but France lost an important ally. Since France was the natural opponent of Emperor Maximilian’s Netherlandish-Burgundian interests, the death of the King “of the wild folks,” as he is called in the Weißkunig text, represented a political success for Maximilian.

While the “studio proofs” of the first state were printed and used during the working process and are therefore often badly preserved, the proofs of the second state were printed by professional printers and kept more carefully (mostly in albums). They surpass the earliest impressions from a “craft perspective” (Petermann, p. 66). This can be easily seen in the outstanding quality of this impression with its clear, sharp and highly differentiated printing even in the most densely hatched areas. In perfect condition with full borderline all around.

An inscription on the surviving woodblock for this print names Hans Taberith as Formschneider, who, according to Geissler “stands out from a generally high level of craftmanship as one of the best cutters.”