The Lovers is related to representations of the garden of love, a popular setting for romance in chivalric
literature, and depicts the ideal of courtly love as a noble and inspiring relationship distinguished by
faithfulness and mutual devotion. The Housebook Master first executed The Lovers, of which only two
mediocre impressions are known. Wenzel’s faithful copy, which preserves the subtle psychology of
love and devotion expressed in the original, is also extremely rare; six impressions are extant, but only
one is as fine as the museum’s. Wenzel produced careful copies of the work of other printmakers as
well, such as Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer. In the 15th century, little value was placed on artistic originality, so the imitation of one artist by another carried with it no stigma.
CMA, "Treasures on Paper from the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art" (Mar. 9, 2014-Jun. 8, 2014)The Cleveland Museum of Art (10/31/15-3/6/16) "Imagining the Garden"