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ISRAHEL VAN MECKENEM
ca. 144045 Bocholt 1503
Saints Simon and Matthew
engraving; 212 x 142 mm
Geisberg 249; Lehrs and Hollstein 298 first state (of two)
quartered coat of arms with fleur-de-lis and dolphin
(cf. Briquet 1647, documented between 1470 and 1500)
Counts Maltzan, Militisch, Silesia (not annotated, cf. Lugt 3024a)
Richard Zinser, Forest Hill, New York (Lugt 5581)
N.G. Stogdon, Catalogue XI: Early Northern Engravings, 1998, lot 25
private collection, Connecticut
An unusually superb impression for a fifteenth-century print; it was known to Lehrs who assigned it a *** rating. The engraving retains even the finest burin lines, thereby allowing for the full plasticity of the figures and the three-dimensionality of the architectural space that serves as a setting for the two half-length apostles.
The print belongs to a series of all twelve apostles depicted in six prints. Joined together, the words below form the Apostles Creed. The historical context is the belief, first documented in a letter of St. Ambrose from ca. 390 CE, that each of the apostles had contributed an article to the Christian Churchs central statement of faith. In this image, St. Simon, on the left, is associated with the forgiveness of sins whereas St. Matthew, the author of the first Gospel, points to his text (The holy Catholic Church).