Lot 2: MASTER AG (ALBRECHT GLOCKENDON) (after Schongauer) The Second Wise Virgin
November 3, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
MASTER AG (ALBRECHT GLOCKENDON) (after Schongauer)
The Second Wise Virgin.
Engraving, circa 1480-90. 116x78 mm; 4 5/8x3 1/8 inches. Ex-collection Albert van Loock (Lugt 3751, verso). A superb, richly-inked and early impression of this very scarce engraving, with strong contrasts and no sign of wear, consistent with the earliest impressions.
The British Museum, London, impression of this subject illustrated in The Illustrated Bartsch is weak and, according to The Illustrated Bartsch Commentary, "No impression is of the first quality." We have not found another impression at auction in the past 30 years.
Schongauer's (circa 1445-1491) series of 10 engravings of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Master AG's engravings are contemporaneous) illustrate the parable in Matthew 25:1-13. According to the story, heaven is likened to the house of a bridegroom. The 5 wise virgins, anticipating that they might have to await the groom, have brought enough oil to keep their lamps burning; they are shown by the artist holding their burning lamps with outstretched arms, facing to the right, with pleasant expressions and with their wedding wreaths on their heads. In contrast, the foolish virgins (see following lot), unprepared for their grooms' delay, have allowed their oil to run out and have had to go off to buy more. On their return, the bridegroom's door was shut to them. They are shown with downcast expressions, their wedding wreaths on the ground, holding exstinguished lamps and facing left. The wise virgins, ready for their grooms, are like the righteous in their preparedness for entry into heaven. Bartsch 19; Lehrs 22.