Support: Laid paper
Sheet: 16.9 x 11.3 cm (6 5/8 x 4 7/16 in.); Image: 16.7 x 10.9 cm (6 9/16 x 4 5/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2010.262
Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch, vol. VI, pp. 336-37, no. 48; Lehrs, pp. 79-80, no. 68; Passavant, vol. 2, p. 134, no. 48
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 exist, 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 1400s, little value was placed on artistic originality, so the imitation of one artist by another carried with no stigma.
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