Mercenaries and a Woman with Death in a Tree

(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.)
Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 28
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

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.
Mercenaries and a Woman with Death in a Tree

Mercenaries and a Woman with Death in a Tree


Urs Graf the Elder

(Swiss, c. 1485–1527/29)

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