what aspects make knight death and the devil by albrecht dürer a master engraving
The symbolic role of the light is important in Knight, Death and the Devil. The foreground is dark. A courageous Knight moves through a gloomy gorge, finding himself between the Death and the Devil. The background is inundated with light. These are two different worlds but to get into the second world, the Knight has to overcome the gloom and the horror of the first one.
A hard, self-absorbed work of a humanist scholar, neglecting the vanities of the world and tumultuous passions, is shown in the engraving Saint Jerome in His Study. Finally, the torment of artistic creation is incarnated in Melencolia I, which, according to Erwin Panofsky, one of the modern specialists on Dürer, is his spiritual self-portrait.
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.
Death, riding a horse and flanking the mounted knight, turns his head towards the rider and holds an hourglass in his left hand. His skull is visible beneath the decomposing flesh of his face, still displaying a beard, while a snake winds its way through the spikes of his crown and another coils around his shoulders. The hourglass, also featured in DГјrer’s Melancholia I and Young Couple Threatened by Death, may represent the amount of time the knight has left on earth.
In 1968 the Argentinian publisher Galerna published a volume in their book series “Variations on a Theme“, the theme of this volume being Dürer’s engraving.  Among the authors asked to write was the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote a poem entitled “Ritter, Tod, und Teufel (I)”. Borges later wrote another poem named “Ritter, Tod und Teufel (II)”, published by Atlántida.  In the first poem he praises the knight’s courage, writing, “Being / brave, Teuton, you surely will be / worthy of the Devil and Death.”  In the second he compares his own state to the knight, writing, “It’s me and not the Knight that the old, white-faced man, head crowned with writhing snakes, exhorts.” 
According to Elizabeth Lunday the “skeletal figure of death stands ghostly pale against the darkness of a shadowy crag, while the devil, a multihorned goatlike creature, skulks amongst straggly tree roots.”  Death is shown with his horse in the left background and rendered without nose or lips in lighter shades than the other figures.  A skull is seen in the lower foreground, directly in the Knight’s path, whilst a dog is running between the two horses.
There were times when melancholy is considered the least desirable of the four moods. However, in the Renaissance, it became identified with the artistic temperament, or rather with the creativity. Moreover, in times of Durer melancholics were begun to separate on three types: the first group includes artists and artisans, the second – people whose mind is dominated by the senses – statesmen and scholars, the third – those who have prevailed intuition – theologians and philosophers. Separation of it was probably quite arbitrary, since the engraving, which is named not just “Melancholia” but “melancholy I” depicted not only the attributes of the artist or craftsman, but also the astronomer and mathematician.
In the same period, Albrecht Durer, in collaboration with the famous German scientists Johann Stabiae and Conrad Heynfogel created three engravings imaging maps of Northern and Southern hemispheres of the sky and the Eastern Hemisphere (Old World). Dürer star charts have become the first images of the sky in the printed book. They were made in the stereographic projection, and the figures of the constellations are made in accordance with the Greek myphological tradition. This is not only a work of art, but also extremely interesting historical development of science and evidence about the then astronomical and geographical representation.
He crossed the Brenner Pass and appears to have made it at least as far as Venice in 1494-95. The details of this first Italian visit are sketchy, but there is ample evidence in his work that it took place.
By Roderick Conway Morris