The Circumcision

Object Details

Title:

The Circumcision

Artist/Maker(s):

Sebald Beham (German, 1500 - 1550)

Culture:

German

Place(s):

Germany (Place created)

Date:

about 1522

Medium:

Pen and brown ink, red chalk, and gray, red, and brown wash

Dimensions:

22.9 cm (9 in.)

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The Virgin Mary and Joseph watch with clasped hands as a priest prepares to circumcise their son, the infant Jesus. The drawing's simplified linear style appropriately renders their air of homespun piety. Sebald Beham relied upon simple, bold outlines and hatching to describe the scene, since few details would be visible once the scene was set high in a church window.

During the 1520s, Beham and his workshop produced many designs for stained-glass windows. This highly finished sketch was part of a series of more than twenty-five works made for a group of windows showing scenes from the lives of the Virgin and Christ. The drawing functioned as a cartoon for a specialist stained-glass maker, who then cut and painted the glass in shapes and colors according to the design. The color notations and red chalk lines inscribed throughout the drawing indicate the placement of glass sections and leading. The lead was then soldered and cemented around the glass pieces before the panels were secured to the window's iron cross-bars.

Exhibitions
16th Century Northern European Drawings (February 18 to May 2, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 18 to May 2, 1992, (Cat.)
16th Century Ornamental Drawings (June 1 to August 14, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), June 1 to August 14, 1994, (Cat.)
Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Durer and Holbein (July 11, 2000 to January 7, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 11 to September 24, 2000, (Cat. 65)
  • Saint Louis Art Museum, (Saint Louis), November 4, 2000 to January 7, 2001, (Cat. 65)
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (February 6 to May 20, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 6 to May 20, 2007, (Cat.)
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (March 31 to July 5, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 31 to July 5, 2009, (Cat.)
Renaissance Drawings from Germany and Switzerland, 1470-1600 (March 27 to June 17, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 27 to June 17, 2012, (Cat.)