Melchior Bocksberger

Melchior Bocksberger - A soldier fighting a hydra

Soldiers fighting a hydra, driven by demons

This intriguing, tiny drawing was made by Melchior Bocksberger, who was born in Salzburg ca. 1537. He was taught by his uncle, Hans Bocksberger the Elder, alongside his nephew, Hans the Younger. Between 1558 and 1573 he was painter to the court of Albrecht V, duke of Bavaria. In this capacity he was commissioned for paintwork at Schloss Dachau and the church of Schloss Isareck.

Bocksberger was also a painter of facades, although there are no more originals to speak of. The few remaining examples have either been over-restored – such as his Goliath on the facade of the Goliath-house in Regensburg – or are in very bad condition. A few drawings by Bocksberger are known, such as a design for Regensburg city hall and a scene from Genesis – God creating the animals – now kept in the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. It is the latter sheet which is very close in style to the present work, allowing for its attribution.

Iconographically, the subject of the present sheet has not yet been identified, although the presence of the Hydra could point to a mythological source.

Artist: Melchior Bocksberger (Salzburg ca. 1537 - ca. 1587 Regensburg)
Medium: pen and ink, blue and grey wash on laid paper
Dimensions: 60 x 122 mm