Samson and Delilah

Albrecht Altdorfer (German, (?) ca. 1480–1538 Regensburg)

Pen and black ink with white heightening on brown prepared paper
sheet: 6 3/4 x 4 13/16 in. (17.1 x 12.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1906
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Within a landscape setting, Samson lies asleep with his head upon Delilah's lap while she, holding the scissors with which she will cut his hair and deprive him of his strength, gestures towards the soldiers in the background who wait to arrest him (Judges 13:16). This autonomous drawing on colored ground is one of four by Altdorfer dated 1506. The fine pen work is characteristic of his early drawings. This drawing is annotated with an unusual, Italianate form of Altdorfer's name, also seen on two other drawings of early date, "Witches Sabbath" and "Allegory with Pax and Minerva," both of which show the influence of Mantegna's designs. This Italianism has been taken as evidence for a trip to Italy, though no such trip is documented.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: In pen and black ink in lower left corner monogrammed AA and dated 1506 [monogram in ligature within is an O]

    Inscription: Verso, at upper left in pen and brown ink: Le Alberto Duro
    Old mount (now removed), at lower center, in pen and brown ink: Alberto Altorfio; lower right in graphite, Altdorfer. Old mount, verso, at upper center, in pen and brown ink: C.51; in graphite in lower right 19647.

  • Provenance

    Jonathan Richardson Sr. (British, London 1667–1745 London); Vendor: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 21, 1996–January 6, 1997.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dürer and Beyond: Early Central European Drawings in New York Collections," April 3, 2012–September 3, 2012.

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Mielke 2

  • References

    Franz Winzinger Albrecht Altdorfer Graphik. Munich, 1963, cat. no. Anhang 2, fig. no. Anhang 2, p. 131, ill.

    Hans Mielke, Christian Müller From Schongauer to Holbein: Master Drawings from Basel and Berlin. Ex. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. 1999, cat. no. under no. 119, p. 272.

    Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700 Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012, cat. 18 (entry written by Freyda Spira); p. ix, xii (introduction written by Stijn Alsteens), ill.

    Walter Mehring European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Portfolio of Collotype Reproductions [Vol. 1: Italian Drawings; Vol. 2: Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings; Vol. 3: "New Series": Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3 vols., New York, 1942-1944, cat. no. 17 (vol.2), fig. no. 17, ill.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution German Drawings. Masterpieces from Five Centuries. [Exhibition supplement]. May 10-Jun 10, 1956, cat. no. 161.

    Eliot Clark "New York Commentary." The Studio. Jul-Sept 1956, Illustrated and mentioned as part of the Metropolitan Museum's exhibition on German drawings., p. 122, ill.

    Karl Oettinger "Datum und Signatur bei Wolf Huber und Albrecht Dürer." Erlanger Forschungen. vol. 8, 1957, P.16, no. 53, cat. no. 53, pp. 43; 47; 48.

    Karl Oettinger Altdorfer-Studien. vol. 3, Nuremberg, 1959, Oettinger mentions that the illustrations for Albrecht Altdorfer will be published by Hans Carl, Nuremberg in another volume, which does not appear to have been published., fig. no. 12, pp. 23;25-26;31;.

    Diana Brandt, Columbia University Great Master Drawings of Seven Centuries. Ex. cat. New York, Oct 13-Nov 7 1959, cat. no. 26, fig. no. 26, p. 33, ill.

    Franz Winzinger "Neue Zeichnungen Albrecht und Erhard Altdorfers." Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte. vol. XVIII (XXII), Vienna, 1960, fig. no. 1, pp. 7; 8, ill.

    "Albrecht Altdorfer: Zeichnungen, Deckfarbermalerei, Druckgraphik (exhibition review)." Master Drawings. vol. 26, no. 3, 1988, cat. no. mentioned, cat.2, pp. 280-281.

    Gisela Goldberg Albrecht Altdorfer: Meister von Landschaft, Raum, Licht. Zurich, 1988, p. 119.

    Hans Mielke, Martin Angerer, Wolfgang Pfeiffer Albrecht Altdorfer: Zeichnungen Deckfarbenmalerei Druckgraphik. Ex. cat. Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museen der Stadt Regensburg, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1988, cat. no. 2, fig. no. 2, p. 28, ill.

    Christopher Wood Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape. Chicago, 1993, P.291, note 45:
    "This drawing is dated 1506, with monogram (AA with a small D or O, as in the 1506 drawings in Berlin and Paris; these are the only instances of this peculiarity in Altdorfer's work).", pp. 77-78; 109.

  • See also