Lot Essay This broadside was first published in 1515 with a prayer in 46 verses printed in two columns in letterpress text below, composed by Johann Stabius (1450-1522), Emperor Maximilian's court historian, mathematician, astronomer and cartographer in Vienna. The prayer calls on the Saints - Quirinus, Maximilian, Florian, Severinus, Coloman and Leopold - to protect and bring peace and prospertity to Austrian and ends with the plea to make Emperor Maximilian 'victorious everywhere'. At the bottom of the sheet, Stabius added a dedication to his fellow humanist, the Viennese canon Andreas Stiborius (circa 1464-1515). The broadside is at once a declaration of friendship between two intellectuals and a piece of imperial Habsburg propaganda, which must be understood in the context of the ongoing conflict with the Ottoman Empire.
Stabius lived in Vienna since 1502, but had visited Nuremberg on several occasions and was familiar with the humanist and artistic circles there. He knew Albrecht Dürer and undoubtedly commissioned him personally to design the woodcut.
This woodcut of the Patron Saints of Austria is today one of the great rarities of Dürer's printed oeuvre and in the present first state, with six saints only, it is almost unobtainable. The British Museum holds the only known complete impression, with the full text and dedication. Only nine impressions with incomplete or without text, such as the present one, are found in public collections (Berlin, Coburg, Gotha, London, Melbourne x 2, Paris x 2, and Vienna), and to our knowledge none, with the exception of the present impression, have been on the market within the last thirty years.
In the second state, produced two years later in 1517, two saints, Saint Poppo and Saint Otto, were added, presumably by Dürer's pupil Hans Springinklee. For this purpose, the lower tablet with the saint's names was opened up on the right and a new part was joined onto Dürer's original woodblock. The joined block survived in the Derschau collection and is today in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin.
The present impression was de-accessioned as a duplicate from the Kupferstichkabinett in 1871 and since then has been in the possession of some of the most discerning print collectors of the late 19th and 20th century, including the director of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main, H. A. Cornill d'Orville, as well as Henry Studdy Theobald, Otto Gerstenberg and Albert Blum.