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, watermark Bear (Meder 93, circa 1530-35), a very good Meder e impression, printing clearly and with good contrasts, with narrow margins, trimmed to the subject at lower left, the sheet slightly toned, some tiny touches of grey wash in places, otherwise in good condition
Plate 242 x 189 mm.
Sheet 244 x 189 mm.
Probably Theodore Irwin (1827-1902), Oswego, New York (see Lugt 1540; without his mark).
Constance Root Irwin (1896-1976), Chicago and Kansas City; presumably by descent from the above (her great-uncle); then by descent in the family to the present owners.
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 Reuter' (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.

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