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

Knight, Death and the Devil

ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
Knight, Death and the Devil
engraving, 1513, on laid paper, without watermark, a very good, silvery yet warm Meder c impression, printing very clearly and with good contrasts, trimmed to or on the platemark, with thread margins in places, in very good condition
Plate & Sheet 245 x 189 mm.
Unidentified, initials .I.N. in brown ink verso.
Paul Davidsohn (1839-1924), London, Vienna & Berlin (Lugt 654); his sale, C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 3-8 May 1920, lot 1509 ('Vorzüglicher, tadeloser Abdruck, mit etwas Rand.') (M. 63,000; this impression cited in Lugt).
Private European Collection.
Christie's, London, 24 June 1986, lot 26.
With Pace Editions, New York; acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Bartsch 98; Meder 74; Schoch Mende Scherbaum 69
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

A knight in armour on his magnificent charger makes his way through a rocky gorge. It is a hostile place with barren, broken trees, thorny shrubs and a human skull positioned on a tree stump, as if in warning. Two figures stand by the wayside, as if emerging from the rocks: King Death astride an old mare, holding an hourglass, with snakes winding through his crown; and a monstrous devil standing on his hoofs, holding a pike.
Countless attempts have been made to identify the central figure, which Dürer simply referred to as der Reuther ('the rider'). Suggestions have included emperor, pope, heretic, Germanic hero and local patrician. None of the potential candidates, either historical or mythological, have been substantiated. The knight as robber baron - a genuine threat in the days of Dürer - is also lacking visual evidence. The precursors of Dürer's rider are the two great equestrian statues of the Italian 15th Century, Donatello's Gattamelata in Padua and Verrocchio's Colleoni in Venice, both of which Dürer had seen, and - much closer to home - the Rider of Bamberg Cathedral. Whatever his true identity, Dürer's rider is clearly cast in the heroic mould, a model of courage and moral strength, the Christian Knight, who does not fear Death or the Devil.
The present impression comes from the collection of Paul Davidsohn, one of the great collectors of the late 19th and early 20th century. A native of Gdansk, Davidsohn moved to Scotland as a young man, then set up a trading firm in London, where he lived for twenty year. It was here, around 1870, that he began to collect old master prints, with a focus on Dürer, Rembrandt and Ostade. The sale of his collection in 1920 was the first great auction of old master prints after the war in Germany, and was celebrated for the depth and quality of his holdings, in particular of the prints by Albrecht Dürer.

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