ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from: The Apocalypse

ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from: The Apocalypse
woodcut, circa 1497/98, on laid paper, watermark Imperial Orb (Meder 53), a brilliant proof impression, Meder b, aside from the first text editions in German and Latin of 1498, printing very evenly and sharply, with much gaufrage, with margins on all sides, a small wormhole in the cloud at right, in very good, original condition, framed
Block 388 x 280 mm., Sheet 429 x 305 mm.
Bartsch 64; Meder, Hollstein 167; Schoch Mende Scherbaum 115

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Tim Schmelcher
Tim Schmelcher International Specialist

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Lot Essay

.. 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 is arguably the most dramatic and dynamic of all of Dürer's compositions. We see the four horsemen as they burst out of heaven, one after the other, 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.

The Apocalypse was published by Dürer himself, the first illustrated book ever published by an artist.

The present impression is outstanding in its printing quality and state of preservation. Presumably bound into an album shortly after it was printed, and still with a paper guard at the left sheet edge, it has never been restored, washed or pressed and the sheet displays the strong relief of the woodblock and the drying fold, as it did when it came off the press.

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