The Griffin

The Griffin

c. 1480-90

Martin Schongauer

(German, c.1450-1491)


Sheet: 10.8 x 10.3 cm (4 1/4 x 4 1/16 in.); Mat Size: 49 x 36.2 cm (19 5/16 x 14 1/4 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1926.466

Catalogue raisonné: Lehrs V.337.93



The griffin was a fabled monster with the head, wings, and claws of an eagle and the hind parts of a lion. They were mentioned by Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) in his Natural History. Because the lion was traditionally considered by medieval scholars to be the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was an especially powerful and majestic creature. Since classical antiquity, griffins were known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. Schongauer’s detailed version has split hooves rather than lion’s paws for its hind legs. The large number of surviving prints of this subject suggests it was widely popular.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

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