BEHAM, Hans Sebald

The Penance of St. John Chrysostom

Engraving, ca. 1545. Hollstein 70, eighth, final, state with the monogram and rays added in the clouds

A very good, rich, and crisp impression, trimmed between platemark and borderline. A tiny plugged hole in the ground left, a possible small repair in upper corner, otherwise in very good condition. 55 x 78mm.





According to a legend associated with the life of St. John Chrysostom, an important father of the early Eastern church, he impregnated a princess while in exile in the wilderness, and performed a lengthy penance by crawling on all fours until she was discovered alive with their child. Beham uses this story as an excuse for a sensuous nude who dominates the composition, while the saint, as in an engraving by Cranach, is a tiny, absurd figure in the background.