From 1510 onward, Graf participated as a mercenary on campaigns in northern Italy and Burgundy. He dedicated numerous drawings to the life of soldiers and of the camp. This study of a figure seen from behind, executed with rapid strokes of the pen, was probably from a live model. The slits in the back of his uniform in the shape of a Swiss cross suggest the mercenary is a Swiss Reisläufer, the Swiss equivalent of the German Landsknecht (lansquenet).


  • Title: Mercenary with Halberd
  • Creator: Urs Graf
  • Date Created: 1513
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.5/20.8 × 12 cm
  • Technique and Material: Pen and black ink
  • Provenance: Old inventory, first listed in the inventory in 1865
  • Museum: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Kupferstich-Kabinett
  • Inv.-No.: C 2137
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-845516
  • External Link: http://www.skd.museum/de/museen-institutionen/residenzschloss/kupferstich-kabinett/
  • Copyright: Photo © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Kupferstich-Kabinett/ Herbert Boswank; Text © Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, A Cooperation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nov 20, 2016 – March 26, 2017, Munich: Prestel, 2016; cat. no. 93 / Claudia Schnitzer
  • Catalogue: https://prestelpublishing.randomhouse.de/book/Renaissance-and-Reformation/Stephanie-Buck/Prestel-com/e504919.rhd
  • Artist Dates: c. 1485 Solothurn, Switzerland–c. 1527–28 Basel (?)
  • Artist Biography: Initially trained by his father as a goldsmith, Graf was later primarily active as a copperplate engraver, etcher, and designer of woodcuts. In 1512 he became a citizen of the city of Basel. Graf took part in several military campaigns in Italy. Depictions of war and of mercenaries are an important theme in Graf’s work, whose motifs and expression recall the work of Niklaus Manuel, known as Deutsch, of Bern.

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps