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Lazarus Begging for Crumbs from Dives's Table
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Heinrich Aldegrever
German, 1552
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, traces of black chalk, incised for transfer
3 1/16 x 4 1/4 in.
2000.7

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Lying on the ground with one arm outstretched, a beggar pleads for crumbs from a rich man's table while dogs lick his sores. This drawing is the second in a series of five preparatory studies Heinrich Aldegrever made for a set of engravings. The series illustrates the Biblical story of Dives and Lazarus from the Book of Luke. Lazarus, a pauper, lived outside the gates of Dives's afluent home. While Dives lived in luxury, Lazarus lived off the crumbs from his table. When the two died, Lazarus was taken to heaven, while Dives went to hell. Dives was punished for eternity because of his mistreatment of Lazarus on earth.

Although the story takes place in the early Christian era, Aldegrever placed the figures in a fashionable interior of the 1500s. Artists often chose to use contemporary settings to make it easier for their viewers to identify with the characters. Dives's feast takes place in a sumptuous interior decorated with bottle glass windows. On the floor, glass vessels fill a wine cooler. Elaborately attired figures seated around the banquet table fail to show the beggar any charity. A servant carrying chafing dishes high above his head emphasizes that Dives's abundant food is unobtainable for Lazarus.