The Miser and the Miscarriage

Barthel Behamca. 1520/30

Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Nuremberg Municipal Museums

An elaborate inscribed panel helps somewhat to decipher this enigmatic image, but it doesn't include a usable title. "The Miser and the Miscarriage" is an invention of art historians to name this tiny engraving. It's a curious scene. A toad sits on the shoulder of a muscular nude man, who carries two sacks of money. In front of him an equally nude woman reclines on the ground, looking at a baby lying in front of her. Could this be a blasphemous reinterpretation of the Nativity? Barthel Beham might have been capable of such a thing, because the Nuremberg painter and engraver was not only famous for his high-quality work, but also notorious for the scandal of the "Three Godless Painters of Nuremberg": in 1525, he, his brother Sebald, and Georg Pencz were accused of heresy and expelled from the city. He settled in Munich, where he became painter to the Catholic court of the Duke of Bavaria.

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  • Title: The Miser and the Miscarriage
  • Creator: Barthel Beham
  • Date: ca. 1520/30
  • Provenance: Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Nürnberg
  • Type: Copper engraving