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    Sale 7375

    The Genius of the German Renaissance: Prints by Albrecht Dürer

    4 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 15

    Albrecht Dürer

    The Martyrdom of Saint John, from The Apocalypse (B. 61; M., Holl. 164; S.M.S. 112)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Albrecht Dürer
    The Martyrdom of Saint John, from The Apocalypse (B. 61; M., Holl. 164; S.M.S. 112)
    woodcut, circa 1496/97, a brilliant, rich, strong and even impression, a proof before the German and Latin text editions of 1498, watermark Imperial Orb (M. 53), trimmed on or to the borderline, printing with a partly uninked horizontal printer's crease in the lower part of the subject, in excellent condition
    S. 388 x 283 mm.


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    Work on the Apocalypse (see lot 131) began in 1496, a year after Dürer returned from Venice, and the present work is the first print in the series. Unlike the subsequent images it does not illustrate the biblical text, but serves to introduce Saint John as the author of the Apocalypse. It refers to the legend of the saint's life as recorded in Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda Aurea, and in the Passional oder der Heiligen Leben (1488) published by the Nuremberg printer and publisher Anton Koberger, Dürer's godfather. According to the legend, during the reign of Emperor Domitian Saint John was taken captive in Rome and publicly tortured with hot oil. Not unlike the Emperor in the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (see previous lot) who oversees the grisly process, Domitian is seen here dressed as a sultan. Oriental dress was a common way to identify heathens of any description, but it undoubtedly also reflects the fear of the Ottoman Empire, which was seen as a permanent threat to Christendom.

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    Provenance

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