DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). [The Small Passion. Nuremberg: Hieronymus Höltzel, 1511].
4°. 37 plates, good to very good impressions: title woodcut from the Latin edition with text on verso, trimmed just into image (186 x 80mm), 36 woodcuts trimmed to border (127 x 97mm) and tipped by left side onto leaves (218 x 188mm), early impressions after the Latin text edition of 1511; Meder 132 bound after 129. High crown watermark [Meder Tafel IV, 20] in 5 woodcuts: 126, 131, 140, 156, 160. Condition: 126 just cut into image; pinprick hole in two plates, tiny neat tear or repair in three plates; tiny spot in 9 plates. 19th-century English maroon morocco, gilt border on sides, gilt spine, gilt edges (front cover lightly sunned). Provenance: Sir John St. Aubyn (1758-1839; I.S.A. monogram on most plates) -- Thomas Edward Watson (bookplate: then by descent to the present owner).
COMPLETE SERIES, in good to very good impressions of the 1511 publication. Dürer's Small Passion series is considered his most unified series, executed with a simpler, more direct treatment of the subject. Individual woodcuts were completed in 1509-1510 and the series was first issued in 1511. Later impressions continued to be printed and the series was widely copied; Marcantonio Raimondi issued engraved copies, and a Biblia Pauperum printed at Venice by Vavassore in the 1530s was directly inspired by it. Thirty-five of the 37 original woodblocks survive at the British Museum. Two images (Christ's Entry into Jerusalem and Christ Driving the Money-changers from the Temple) are not included in any of Dürer's other Passion series.
The 19th-century owner of this series, Sir John St. Aubyn, was a colourful character from an early age, having been brought up before the lord chancellor even as a student at Winchester for non-payment of debt to a fellow student. He made the Grand Tour, fathered 15 illegitimate children, and served as Member of Parliament. He was also a patron of the arts, friend of John Opie, and collector of prints and books on a grand scale. Illus. Bartsch 16-52; Meder 125-161.