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Albrecht Dürer
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Albrecht Dürer

Saint Anthony reading (B. 58; M., Holl. 51; S.M.S. 87)

Details
Albrecht Dürer
Saint Anthony reading
(B. 58; M., Holl. 51; S.M.S. 87)
engraving, 1519, without watermark, a superb Meder a impression, with narrow margins, in excellent condition
P. 3 7/8 x 5 5/8 in. (99 x 143 mm.)
S. 4 3/8 x 5¾ in. (111 x 146 mm.)
Provenance
Felix Somary (1881-1956), Vienna and Zurich (not in Lugt).
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Lot Essay

Very similar to the fine example from the Cracherode collection in the British Museum, which in direct comparison with the present impression however lacks a little bit of warmth and brilliance.

Saint Anthony (circa 251-356), an Egyptian monk who as a young man sought solitude, abstinence and meditation in the desert, is considered the first Christian hermit. Dürer, in one of his rare horizontal compositions, avoids the more picturesque episode of the saint's temptation and instead shows him in scholarly contemplation, not unlike Saint Jerome in his Study (lot 45). However, instead of a comfortable room, Dürer has placed the ascetic saint in front of a spectacular cityscape, which for us today is probably the main attraction of this print.

As in many of his later prints, Dürer has reduced his palette to subtle gradations of silvery grey, and this renunciation of strong contrasts so well suits the quiet, reflective mood.

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