knight death and the devil period
Knight, Death and the Devil was completed in 1513 A.D., by Albrecht Dürer. The engraving was created during the artist’s Nuremberg period, when he served the Emperor Maximilian and lived in Nuremberg, devoting himself to engraving work. Unlike many works of the time, it was not created as a commission.
The work is a 9.6 inch by 7.5 inch black and white illustration created with a copper engraving technique. The artist etched the design in reverse/negative onto a sheet of copper and then used the plate to transfer the work with ink onto paper. Works produced by this method, are referred to as the Old Master prints.
“In order that you may not be deterred from the path of virtue because it seems rough and dreary … and because you must constantly fight three unfair enemies—the flesh, the devil, and the world—this third rule shall be proposed to you: all of those spooks and phantoms which come upon you as if you were in the very gorges of Hades must be deemed for naught after the example of Virgil’s Aeneas … Look not behind thee.”
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.
Death, the Devil, and the landscape are all rendered in a bleakly northern manner. The surrounding characters are threatening to the knight, who is seemingly protected by the literal and figurative armor of his faith. It is believed by some art historians to be linked with publications of the Dutch humanist and theologian Erasmus’s Enchiridion militis Christiani (Handbook of a Christian soldier).  The engraving draws from Psalm 23; “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”.  Knight, Death and the Devil is dated and signed by the artist; the bottom left of the tablet is scribed “S. (=Salus/in the year of grace) 1513.” 
Knight, Death and the Devil (German: Ritter, Tod und Teufel) is a large 1513 engraving by the German artist Albrecht Dürer, one of the three Meisterstiche (master prints)  completed during a period when he almost ceased to work in paint or woodcuts to focus on engravings. The image is infused with complex iconography and symbolism, the precise meaning of which has been argued over for centuries.
A sundial, mounted on top of the hourglass, casts its shadow on five while the volume of sand in the upper-half of the hourglass suggests that the rider has already spent half of his allotted time on earth. Death’s horse, its left ear pointing up and its right ear level, lowers its head and looks towards a human skull that sits on top of a tree stump.
This work is considered to be one of the foremost artistic offerings of the Northern Renaissance, of which DГјrer was a major proponent, and the true meaning of the engraving has been a point of contention since its publication.
Knight, Death, and Devil is one of Dürer’s three ‘master engravings’ (Meisterstiche), along with Melencolia I 1514 and Saint Jerome in His Study 1514. Although these works are not a series as such, scholars have attempted to link the trio together, seeing them as representing moral, theological and intellectual pursuits respectively. Art historian, Jeroen Stumpel writes of the Meisterstiche that, ‘despite various theories, no thematic relationship between the three compositions has ever been identified. Only a single object is found in all three: the hourglass, which shows that about half the interval of a life time has already run out’ (Stumpel 2013, p.258).