The Milkmaid1510 by Lucas Van Leyden

Lucas is famous for his subtle shades of grey, which he used to create the impression of spatial depth and atmospheric mood. Not least, it was Lucas’ narrative talent that captivated the public. He often transferred the main event of his theatrical compositions to the background and emphasized the moment shortly before or after in the foreground as the focus of his narrative. He furthermore added an abundance of details. Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander, in some of the earliest art-historical writings, praised the rich variations in the faces he portrayed as well as his variety of garments and headwear.

A close study of Lucas’ engravings opens up a world of its own, one that holds many surprises – also of an amusing manner. Even today, Lucas’ idiosyncratic subjects and imaginative narratives continue to enchant the viewer.

His famous print of the Milkmaid from 1510, for example, initially pretends to be a realistic portrayal of rural life. Only upon closer inspection the viewer realizes the erotic allusions to the beginning of a liaison between the backwoods farmhand and the open-hearted maidservant. With his ironic view on the power of feminine attraction and his warning of the ruses and wiles of women, Lucas struck a chord with the taste of his clientele of the affluent citizenry.
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.
Imported from:
Media: print