albrecht durer the knight death and the devil

The engraving depicts a procession of earthly and supernatural beings travelling along a mountain pass from the right-hand-side of the frame to the left while the high-gabled roofs, crenellated walls and lofty towers of a citadel are visible in the distance. A horseman, wearing plate-armour and resting a lance on his shoulder, is riding a powerful charger in the company of two monstrous figures that are considered to be manifestations of Death and the Devil.
A tablet, resting against the tree stump on top of which the skull is positioned, is located at the bottom-left-hand corner of the print and displays the year of the engraving’s creation as well as the artist’s initials. The skull, lacking a jawbone, is facing towards the right-hand-side of the print which gives the impression that its lifeless form is looking towards the approaching party.

Albrecht durer the knight death and the devil
The work was mentioned by Giorgio Vasari as one of “several sheets of such excellence that nothing finer can be achieved”. [4] It was widely copied and had a large influence on later German writers. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referenced the work in his work on dramatic theory The Birth of Tragedy (1872) to exemplify pessimism, while it was later idealised in the 20th century by the Nazis as representing the racially pure Aryan, and was sometimes used in their propaganda imagery. [5]
Most print rooms with a significant collection will have a copy, and there are many, often late and worn, impressions in private collections.

Albrecht durer the knight death and the devil
In a 2011 episode of the reality TV series Pawn Stars, Las Vegas pawnbroker Rick Harrison purchased a Knight, Death, and the Devil print for $5500. The expert appraisal suggested he could fetch $20,000 to $50,000 at auction for the rare engraving.
Death had lingered around Dürer since he was a child. Of his 17 siblings, only two lived to adulthood. Outbreaks of disease urged him to write, “Anyone who is among us today, may be buried tomorrow,” and, “Always seek grace, as if you might die any moment.” Death was a very real and constant threat for the artist, whose devotion to his faith also meant he greatly feared damnation. Knowing this preoccupation, an observer could read Knight, Death, and the Devil as one of the artist’s more oblique self-portraits.

Albrecht durer the knight death and the devil
The horse is the centre of this composition, and is its focal point. Unlike Dürer’s Four Horseman of the Apocalypse 1498, which obscures the hind quarters of the horse, this engraving depicts its entire anatomy. Art historian, Heinrich Wölfflin writes of the horse:
Gaillard Ravenel, Jay Levenson, ‘Catalogue of Prints’ in Charles Talbot (ed.), Dürer in America: His Graphic Work, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art Washington, District of Columbia 1971, pp.111–98.

Albrecht durer the knight death and the devil
One of the most skilled artists of the Renaissance, Durer had a sophisticated touch and looking at the horse’s neck shape it is clear how he used engraved lines in a similar way to topological maps when describing forms.
Sten Karling, a mid-to-late 1900s writer and analyst has a somewhat different view. He claims that instead of the Knight showing glory it did, in fact, depict a ‘robber baron’. By this Karling was saying that due to a significant lack of religious and Christian symbols, Knight, Death and the Devil could not possibly be based on the Bible.


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