Gallery of prints for sale

Sunday 28 May 2023

Hans Burgkmair the Elder’s woodcut, “From an Embarrassing Question”, c1520

Hans Burgkmair the Elder (1473–1531)

“From an Embarrassing Question” (“Von Peinlicher frage” [letterpress text above the image]), c1520, woodcut published in Frankfurt in 1550 by Christian Egenolph (1502–1555) as an illustration to page 169 (CLXIX) of Justin Gobler’s (1503/4–1567) “Der Rechten Spiegel Auß den beschribenen Geystlichem, Weltlichen, Natürlichem, vnd andern gebreuchlichen Rechten...“ (read this book online at

For those with sensitive spirits, the paragraph below is explanatory information of the portrayed subject and may not be necessary to read.

From what I understand, the scene is set in the torture chamber of Slovakia’s Spis Castle (Spišský hrad) (see The portrayed subject on the left, shows the Sicilian tyrant of Akragas (Agrigent), Phalaris (c570–555 BC) roasting the designer of the Bronze Bull, the sculptor Perillos, as a way of seeing this hideous torture device in use for the first time—note that a part of the design principle to this device is that the bronze bull would cast a bellowing sound as steam escapes its nostrils… dreadful! In the foreground may be seen a victim on the torture device known as “the rack” and adding more horror to the victim plight as his limbs are slowly dislocated, he is force-fed water—a torture known as “waterboarding”. In the background at left, a torture victim is raised with his hands secured behind his back and dropped to dislocate his shoulders—a torture known as the “strappado”.

Woodcut with letterpress text on laid paper trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 16.8 x 17.5 cm; (image borderline) 14.6 x 15.6 cm.

Letterpress text printed above the image borderline: (centre) “Von Peinlicher frage”.

Condition: a strong and well-printed early impression showing little or no sign of wear to the printing plate. There is a restored nick in the upper edge of the sheet, otherwise, it is in an excellent condition and laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper.

I am selling this historically significant woodcut from the Renaissance showing various torture devices of the time, for AU$264 (currently US$176.46/EUR159.66/GBP140.54 at the time of listing this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this rare and important (but grim in what is portrayed) woodcut, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know your thoughts, advice about inaccuracies (including typos) and additional information that you would like to add to any post.