Original Woodblock for his woodcut (B. 159) with Arms of Michael Behaim (d. October 24, 1511) and autograph letter

Download image: 
Albrecht Dürer
1471-1528
Germany, 16th century.
Wood.
11 1/8 x 7 3/4 x 15/16 inches (282 x 197 x 24 mm)
Purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867-1943) in 1926.
AZ127
Provenance: 
By descent through the Behaim family until 20 January 1926 when it was purchased by Mr. J.P. Morgan from Baroness Franziska zu Behaim.
Notes: 

Inscribed on a removable plaque resting on the block below the image, "Demnach Herr Michael Behaim im Jahr Christi 1569 und mit selbigen auch Sei/ ne Linien des Behaimischen Stamens todes verfahrn/ zuvorn aber durch Albrecht Dürern das/ Behaimische Wappen in holz schneiden lassen. Also hat dessen nachkom[m]ender TochterSohn/ der Edel Ehrnvert vörsichtig und hochweiss Herr Niclaus Albrecht Rieter von und zu/ Kornburg und Falkenstainberg dess Eltern gehaimen Rhats alhier, diesen gegenwerti/ gen Stockh des Böhaimischen Wappens/ denen iezo noch im Leben sich befinden/ den Herrn Lucas Friderich und Herrn Georg Christoff den Behaimen beede[n?]/ respective auch des Eltern gehaimen und Innern Rhats alhie und dern Linien in Ihr Archiv/ verehrt, allda es Ehrengedachtem Herrn Rieter/ Zu ruhm, denen Nachkommen aber zu stetter gedechtnus, mit schuldigem danckh verwahrt und/ ufbehalten wirbt. So geschehen in Nürmberg, den/ 23. Julij Anno Christi 1643."
On the back of the woodblock are three identical versions of a letter from Dürer to Behaim. The letter reads: "Libr her michell beheim Ich shick ewch dis waben widr pit latz beleiben es wurt ewchs so keiner verpessern dan ich habs mit fleis kunstlich gemacht dorudys sehen vud ferstend dy werden ewch woll berscheid sagn soll man dy lewble awff dem helm vber sich werffen so verdecken su dy pinden, E...vndertan Albrecht Durer" [translation: "Dear Master Michael Behaim, I send you back the coat of arms again. Pray let it stand as it is. No one could improve it for you for I make it artistically and with care. Those who see it and understand such matters will tell you so. If the leaf-work on the helm were tossed up backwards it would hide the fillet. Your humble servant, Albrecht Dürer." One version is written directly on the block itself (top) and two are written on paper attached to the block (below). Thausing (1882), Fleschig (1928), and Bartsch (1981) regard the letter written directly on the block to be autograph, while Strauss (1980) refers to the autograph letter as “glued.” Yet Strauss edited the 1981 Bartsch, in which Dürer's letter is described as “sketched directly onto the block.” In the version of the letter written directly on the block, the articulation of “Albrecht” resembles the artist's signature on other pieces of correspondence. (See Schriftlicher Nachlass, figures 17 and 26).

Artist page: 
Century: 
Classification: 
Department: