Whilst in the Sudarium held by one Angel Dürer used the rapid, agitated etching lines to create a sense of physical movement, he here employed the same stylistic effects to illustrate the internal drama of Christ's Agony in the Garden. The whole scene is shown in an intense, nervously flickering chiaroscuro, which heightens the sense of unrest and despair, as Christ says to His Father: 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.' (Matthew 26.39).
Dürer made at least two preparatory drawings for this etching. In the first, now in the Louvre (W. 584), the disciples are shown sleeping in the foreground. In the second (Albertina, Vienna, W. 585), used as the basis for the etching, he moved the disciples to the background and placed the figure of Christ in the foreground. All the emphasis is on Christ and the apparition of the angel above, while the narrative aspects of the scene, the sleeping disciples and the soldiers with their lances and torches coming for His arrest, are merely hinted at.
By further stressing the core of the narrative - Christ's dialogue with God - Dürer created a devotional image in the spirit of the devotio moderna, whose supporters were in search for a personal and immediate approach to God.