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    Sale 7375

    The Genius of the German Renaissance: Prints by Albrecht Dürer

    4 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 16

    Albrecht Dürer

    The Four Horsemen, from The Apocalypse (B. 64; M., Holl. 167; S.M.S. 115)

    Price Realised  


    Albrecht Dürer
    The Four Horsemen, from The Apocalypse (B. 64; M., Holl. 167; S.M.S. 115)
    woodcut, circa 1497/98, a brilliant, rich and strong Meder a/b impression, a proof before the German and Latin text editions of 1498, with the hairline crack from the lower border to the ankle of the figure of Death just beginning to show, watermark Imperial Orb (M. 53), trimmed to or on the borderline, with a partly uninked printer's crease to the left of the head of Death, the sheet slightly cockled, mainly noticeable on the reverse, with speckled remains of old adhesive verso, otherwise in very good condition
    S. 392 x 282 mm.

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    '.. and I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6.8)

    The Four Horsemen, here in a stunning proof impression from the collection of the King of Saxony, is arguably the most dramatic and dynamic of all of Dürer's compositions. We see the four horsemen, one after the other, as they burst out of heaven and thunder over the earth. Death is the last to come, grinning triumphantly on his haggard old mare. The mouth of hell opens up below, devouring a 'lord of the earth' - perhaps a bishop or king. No-one is spared, women, men, clerics, monks and peasants all fall beneath their hoofs.

    Everything conveys a sense of violence and rupture; the four riders are barely contained within the image as the right borderline cuts through an arrow, the horse's head and the peasant falling in the foreground. Panofsky observed that the three horses in the air are shown at different intervals of their galloping movement, thereby creating the impression of time and continuity, not unlike Eadweard Muybridge's photographic recordings of bodies in motion almost five hundred years later.

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    Friedrich August II, King of Saxony (L. 971).