VAN LEYDEN, Lucas
Engraving, 29 x 20 cm, framing line in black ink, laid paper, signed and dated with monogram at lower left "L 1508" (late impression, laid down on mount, several brown stains, glue marks on verso).
This is known as the first dated print by the young Lucas van Leyden, which introduced a mature and highly sophisticated phase in his artistic career. The depicted scene relates back to Jean de Mandeville who tells the story of a meeting between the prophet Mohammed and the Christian monk Sergius. Mohammed was so captivated by Sergius' preachings about Christ that he instructed his followers to listen. These early followers of Mohammed were not so convinced and decided to kill Sergius during a night that the monk and Mohammed were asleep after having had too much wine. They did so by using Mohammed's sword, thus making the prophet of Allah think that he killed his close friend in drunken rage. This story provided Christians with an explanation for the reason why Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol. Lucas depicts the scene at the moment when Sergius' throat was slit by one of Mohammed's followers. The engraving is one of the rare depictions of Mohammed in Renaissance art. The engraving enjoyed a huge popularity during the Renaissance and two years after its publication, the forest background was used by Marcantonio Raimondi in his own engraving of soldiers bathing (B. 487). The print is also one of the few to have been mentioned by Van Mander (1604). An impression of the 2nd state (of 3), with the address of Maarten Peeters (erased in the paper and not in the plate).
Ref. New Hollstein 126.2. - Amsterdam 1978, pp. 22-27.
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