Urs Graf

In addition to his activities as a draftsman, engraver, and goldsmith, Graf was a mercenary who participated in military campaigns in Italy and France. Many of his drawings build on these experiences, chronicling the life of soldiers and the vicissitudes of war. In this sheet, a soldier and a woman are seen parting ways. While she firmly grips the front of his cloak, a sword in his left hand connects with her bulging belly, imbuing the drawing with an erotic charge. The scabbard points into the dark landscape at right, indicating the departing soldier’s direction. Although Graf’s highly linear style evokes printmaking, the drawing was not a preparatory study for an engraving. Monogrammed and dated at lower right, it was created as an independent work of art.

Urs Graf
Swiss, ca. 1485–1527/28
The Farewell, 1513 or 1515
Pen and black ink
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 1899-42
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden