(Swiss, c. 1485–1527/29)
Image: 20.2 x 11.7 cm (7 15/16 x 4 5/8 in.); Sheet: 20.2 x 11.7 cm (7 15/16 x 4 5/8 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1942.118
Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 28
Urs Graf was a Swiss professional soldier, or mercenary, who made many images of soldiers and camp followers, such as the woman featured here.
Two Swiss mercenaries and a woman meet
outside a city at a prominent tree. The woman’s
immodest dress, glance, and proximity to a
money bag imply that she is sexually available, as does the soldier’s suggestively placed sword.
Death makes an appearance as a skeleton,
conjoining sin with death (for it was believed
that overindulgence in carnal love led to peril).
The Swiss Confederacy during the 1500s was a
culture of mercenary warfare. Women traveled
with regiments of soldiers, earning meager
wages as servants, cooks, or sex workers. Urs
Graf, a soldier himself, made many images
ridiculing the situation.
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