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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1480-1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Meckenem, Israhel van (engraver)
    Master E. S. (artist)
    Meckenem, Israhel van (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 6B

The shape of this print suggests that it is either a design for a plate or was intended to be stuck onto another object, such as the lid of a box. The image in the centre is taken from a print by Master E.S. who was active between 1450 and 1467. The foliage and flowers round the edge are thought to be Meckenem’s own design.

Meckenem was one of the most prolific fifteenth century printmakers and also one who widely copied from others. Only ten percent of his surviving output of around 620 designs were his own work. Copying or borrowing motifs from other designers and printmakers was a commonplace practice at this time.

The central image comes from the tradition of ‘courtly love’ emerging from medieval romances sung by poets in aristocratic courts. Later written down the manuscripts, they were often lavishly illustrated. Illustrations to romances and standard courtly love motifs featured in domestic objects such as tapestries, chests and decorative ware.

In this image a man and woman play music beside a fountain in a garden. Gardens and fountains were frequent features in the romances, appropriated from religious imagery of the Earthly Paradise and fountain of life from which the water of life flowed to the rest of the world. In religious illustrations the doves and peacocks in such gardens represent immortality.

Physical description

Print with a troubadour playing a lute and a woman playing the harp, seated on either side of a fountain in a garden. Around the border is stylized leaf ornament including some bunsches of grapes, a stylized sunflower and one or two no floral elements such as a bauble towards the bottom.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


ca. 1480-1500 (made)


Meckenem, Israhel van (engraver)
Master E. S. (artist)
Meckenem, Israhel van (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Engraver's signature

[watermark - hand and cuff surmounted by four-part leaf or quatrefoil]
Towards the top, sideways with top racing to right. Most similar to 11421 (Troyes 1483) see Briquet in references.


Diameter: 176 mm

Historical context note

Miller, Naomi. 'Paradise Regained: Medieval Garden Fountains', in Medieval Gardens. Washington: Trustees for Harvard University, 1986, pp. 137-153. For a discussion of garden iconography.

'Although the vine itself and the denslet hatched ground accord with Meckenem's mature ornament prints, the little scene in the center is borrowed from Master E.S., while a number of the flowers in the ornamental border are reminiscent of flowers by the Master of the Berlin Passion. Geisberg dated this print about 1476 and claimed that it was one of the latest Meckenem copies after E.S.' Shestack, Alan. Fifteenth century engravings of northern Europe from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1968, no. 246.

Descriptive line

Israhel van Meckenem. The Garden of Love set within a frame of foliated ornament. German, ca. 1475.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bartsch, Adam von. The Illustrated Bartsch. no. 208.
Bartsch, Adam von. Le Peintre Gravure. VI, 283, no. 208.
Hollstein, F. W. H. German engravings, etchings, and woodcuts, ca. 1400-1700. Rotterdam, Sound and Vision Interactive, 199, Volume XXIV, no.511.
Lehrs, Max. Repertorium. XVI, 1893, 341, no. 27.
Shestack, Alan. Fifteenth century engravings of northern Europe from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1968, no. 246.
Lehrs, Max. Geschichte und kritischer Katalog des deutschen, niederländischen und französcischen Kupferstichs im XV. Jahrhundert. Vienna, Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, 1908-24, IX. no. 511
Geisberg, Max. Verzeichnis der Kupfersticke Israhels van Meckenem, no. 472
Shaw, Henry. Encyclopedia of Ornament. London, 1842.
Briquet, Charles-Moïse. Les filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier des leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600, avec 39 figures dans le texte et 16, 112 facsimilés de filigranes. 1839-1918. Paris, A. Picard & fils & Geneva, A. Jullien, 1907.

Production Note

2nd state with ground to the ornament, dating from Shestack (see references), object mounted so watermark unseen

Subjects depicted

Border; Harp; Garden; Watermark; Bauble; Fountain; Sunflower; Grapes; Scrolling foliage; Lute


Prints; Images Online; Entertainment & Leisure; Musical instruments; Gardens & Gardening; Ornament prints

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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