Christ crowned with thorns

  • New
Reference: S46696
Author Albrecht DURER
Year: 1511
Measures: 220 x 215 mm
€5,500.00

  • New
Reference: S46696
Author Albrecht DURER
Year: 1511
Measures: 220 x 215 mm
€5,500.00

Description

Wounded Christ seated as a man of sorrows on a stone bench, on the ground the instruments of the Passion; a man kneeling before Christ offering him a tree branch.

Woodcut, circa 1511, without monogram. Second-state example, with the lines of Christ's halo being lower in the center; on the right side of the plate, the interlacing of lines and the end of the clouds are on the same directrix. Of the first state only the example in the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, is known.

Magnificent, richly toned impression of the third variant of six according to Meder, printed on contemporary laid paper, with margins, in perfect condition.

Panofsky (1943, vol. 1, pp. 138-39; vol. 2, no. 224) first, examining an impression in the Alverthorpe Gallery [now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington] states that Durer made this woodcut with an intaglio in the same block, along with the frontispiece of "The Life of the Virgin". Panofsky is wrong in assuming that this may constitute a third state of the matrix, because the Oxford proof (first state for Meder) is not printed together with the frontispiece of "The Life of the Virgin". Instead, the combined impression is in the British Museum in London:

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1895-0122-620

However, Panofsky seems to be correct in assuming that the two frontispieces were cut in the same block, as evidenced by the remnants of the other work visible on the left in the Washington sheet.

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.4073.html#inscription

This is the first print of the series printed by Hieronymus Höltzel, Nuremberg, 1511. It consists of a frontispiece and 11 woodcuts:

'Dürer made seven of the twelve woodcuts of his Large Passion series between 1497 and 1500, and then produced four additional woodcuts, the 'Last Supper', the 'Arrest of Christ', the 'Descent into Limbo' and the 'Resurrection' much later in 1510. In the following year, he published the series in book form with Latin verses composed by Benedict Schwalbe and a title-page design, 'Christ as the Man of Sorrows', at the same time as a second edition of the Apocalypse and the first edition of his Life of the Virgin series. There are a number of references to these three works, "die grossen Bücher" in Dürer 's diary of his journey to the Netherlands in 1520-21 which indicate that he often, but not always disposed of them together. On one occasion, he exchanged the three for a publication by Martin Luther.

This complete book is open at the title-page for the Large Passion. Dürer sold impressions of these prints separately for many years before the book edition and eleven such early impressions, which are distinguished by having no text on the versos, following the sequence in which they appear in the book. The difference in Dürer's style and technical achievement between the early prints of the series and those made some ten years later, clearly illustrates the level of his accomplishment. This distinction was even commented on by Giorgio Vasari, who interestingly assumed that the earlier woodcuts, which he considered deeply inferior despite possessing Dürer's monogram, were executed after Dürer's death "for the sake of gain, by other people who were unscrupulous enough to assign them to Albrecht" (see Vasari, V, p.5). (cf. G. Batrum, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, BM exh.cat., 2002, no.118a).

As in "The Small Passion" Dürer chose Christ, as Man of Sorrows, for the frontispiece of "The Large Passion" when he issued it in book form in 1511. A Latin text compiled by Benedictus Chelidonius accompanied the illustrations which had been prepared intermittently during the preceding decade.

Much like the builders of the great cathedrals of Christendom, who made periodic additions to their edifices, Dürer was seemingly not perturbed by the inconsistency of style in the leaves of "The Large Passion". However, the frontispiece he chose functions as a unifying factor that emphasizes the spirit in which they were conceived. For the scene pictured is not an occurrence of Christ's Passion, not a "Mocking of Christ" as it would seem at first glance. The fringe of clouds places it in the realm of imagination, and the Saviour's wounds denote that Christ is here pictured after the crucifixion. Thus it is, in fact, a reference to the then widely held belief in the "Perpetual Passion" of Christ, who continues to suffer for man's new sins. Chelidonius's verses beneath the woodcut make this abundantly clear:

"O Man, these cruel wounds I bear for thee to cure thy mortal illness with my blood, and see, thy sores, thy death I take on me A God transformed to man for thee. But still thy sins ungratefully stab me without heed thou maketh me suffer for each guilty deed. From hostile Jews I learned to suffer once, shall it not cease? Let suffering end, once is enough, now friend have peace"!

And this explains why in the woodcut Christ, crowned with thorns, as he sits on the cold stone, the scourge on the ground next to him, looks at the beholder, pleading for an end to sin. The armed man has been deemed to represent the soldier who had sneeringly offered Christ a branch for a scepter-cut from the tree that had grown from the sapling that Seth had taken from the Tree of Life and placed on Adam's grave. According to legend, the Cross had been made from its wood. This renewed offering of a greening branch would therefore make reference to "The Perpetual Passion."

In our view, the figure on the left may, however, represent not a soldier, but man, whose gesture implies a plea to the Saviour to accept this rod, cut from live wood, to use for keeping man within bounds. But Christ cannot accept it, as his hands are symbolically joined, for his rod is love. In contrast to "The Small Passion" for which Chelidonius composed the verses, he compiled the text for "The Large Passion" from several sources: Jerome of Padua's, Carmen de Jesu, Domenico Mancino's Passio domini nostri Jesu Christi, portions from the writings of Baptista Mantuanus for which Sebastian Brandt had written a commentary, and Vaelius Sedulius Paschale carmen. (cf. W. L. Strauss The Woodcuts and Woodblocks of Albrecht Durer, p. 453).

Bibliografia

Meder 1932 / Dürer Katalog (113); Bartsch / Le Peintre graveur (VII.117.4); Schoch 2001-04 / Albrecht Dürer, das druckgraphische Werk. 3 vols I Intaglio, II Woodcuts, III Book illustrations (II.154); Strauss, The Woodcuts and Woodblocks of Albrecht Durer, pp. 453-455, n. 157.

Albrecht DURER (Norimberga 1471 - 1528)

Dürer was a German painter, wood carver, engraver, and mathematician. He is best known for his woodcuts in series, including the Apocalypse (1498), two series on the crucifixion of Christ, the Great Passion (1498-1510) and the Little Passion (1510-11) as well as many of his individual prints, such as Knight, Death, and the Devil(1513) and Melancholia I (1514). Dürer was born in the Imperial Free City of Nuremberg. His family came from the Kingdom of Hungary, germanizing the family name of Thürer when they settled in Nuremberg soon after the middle of the 15th century. His father, also called Albrecht, was a goldsmith and served as assistant to Hieronymus Helfer, marrying his daughter Barbara in 1468. They had eighteen children, Albrecht was the second. Albrecht's brother, Hans Dürer, also became a renowned artist. As a youngster, Albrecht the younger apprenticed under his father, where he learned the fine art of goldsmithing, and to handle a burin. Then at the age of fifteen Dürer was apprenticed to the principal painter of the town, Michael Wolgemut, a prolific if undistinguished producer of small works in the late Gothic style. Dürer learned not only painting but also wood carving and elementary copper engraving under Wolgemut. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1490 he travelled (the so-called Wanderjahre). In 1492 he arrived in Colmar, intending to study under Martin Schöngauer, a well regarded painter-engraver of his time. He found that Schongauer had died the previous year, but he was received kindly by the family of the deceased master there and in Basel. Under them he evidently had some practice both in metal-engraving and in furnishing designs for the woodcutter. He left Basel some time in 1494 and travelled briefly in the Low Countries before he returned to Nuremberg. From this period, little of the work that can be attributed to him with certainty survives, though several of the illustrations of the Nuremberg Chronicle are sometimes attributed to him. On July 9, 1494 Dürer was married, according to an arrangement made during his absence, to Agnes Frey, the daughter of a local merchant. His relationship with his wife is unclear and her reputation has suffered from a posthumous assault by Dürer's friends. He did not remain in Nuremberg long; in the autumn of 1494 he travelled to Italy, leaving his wife at Nuremberg. He went to Venice, evidence of his travels being derived from drawings and engravings that are closely linked to existing northern Italian works by Mantegna, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Lorenzo di Credi and others. Some time in 1495 Dürer must have returned to Nuremberg, where he seems to have lived and worked for possibly the next ten years, producing most of his notable prints. During the first few years from 1495 onwards he worked in the established Germanic and northern forms but was open to the influences of the Renaissance. His best works in this period were for wood-block printing, typical scenes of popular devotion developed into his famous series of sixteen great designs for the Apocalypse, first carved in 1498. Counterpointed with the first seven of scenes of the Great Passion in the same year, and a little later a series of eleven on the Holy Family and of saints. Around 1504-1505 he carved the first seventeen prints of a set illustrating the life of the Virgin. Neither these nor the Great Passion were published till several years later. Dürer trained himself in the more finely detailed and expensive copper-engraving. He attempted no subjects of the scale of his woodcuts, but produced a number of Madonnas, single figures from scripture or of the saints, some nude mythologies, and groups, sometimes satirical, of ordinary people. The Venetian artist Jacopo de Barbari, whom Dürer had met in Venice, came to Nuremberg for a while in 1500. He influenced Dürer with the new developments in perspective, anatomy and proportion, from which Dürer began his own studies. A series of extant drawings shows Dürer's experiments in human proportion, up to the famous engraving of Adam and Eve (1504) which showed his firm and detailed grasp of landscape had extended into the quality of flesh surfaces by the subtlest use of the graving-tool known to him. Two or three other technical masterpieces were produced up to 1505, when he made a second visit to Italy. In Italy he turned his hand to painting, at first producing a series of works by tempera-painting on linen, including portraits and altarpieces, notably the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi. In early 1506 he returned to Venice, and stayed there until the spring of 1507. The occasion of this journey has been erroneously stated by Vasari. Dürer's engravings had by this time attained great popularity and had begun to be copied. In Venice he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of St. Bartholomew. The picture painted by Dürer was closer to the Italian style - the Adoration of the Virgin, also known as the Feast of Rose Garlands; it was subsequently acquired by the Emperor Rudolf II and taken to Prague. Other paintings Dürer produced in Venice include The Virgin and Child with the Goldfinch, a Christ disputing with the Doctors (apparently produced in a mere five days) and a number of smaller works. Despite the regard in which he was held by the Venetians, Dürer was back in Nuremberg by mid-1507. He remained in Germany until 1520. His reputation spread all over Europe. He was on terms of friendship or friendly communication with all the masters of the age, and Raphael held himself honored in exchanging drawings with Dürer. The years between his return from Venice and his journey to the Netherlands are commonly divided according to the type of work with which he was principally occupied. The first five years, 1507-1511, are pre-eminently the painting years of his life. In them, working with a vast number of preliminary drawings and studies, he produced what have been accounted his four best works in painting - Adam and Eve (1507), Virgin with the Iris (1508), the altarpiece the Assumption of the Virgin (1509), and the Adoration of the Trinity by all the Saints (1511). During this period he also completed the two woodcut series of the Great Passion and the Life of the Virgin, both published in 1511 together with a second edition of the Apocalypse series. From 1511 to 1514, Dürer concentrated on engraving, both on wood and copper, but especially the latter. The major work he produced in this period was the thirty-seven subjects of the Little Passion on wood, published first in 1511, and a set of fifteen small copper-engravings on the same theme in 1512. In 1513 and 1514 appeared the three most famous of Dürer's works in copper-engraving, The Knight and Death (or simply The Knight, as he called it, 1513), Melancolia and St Jerome in his Study (both 1514). In the years leading to 1520 he produced a wide range of works. Tempera on linen portraits in 1516. Engravings on many subjects, experiments in etching on plates of iron and zinc. A part of the Triumphal Gate and the Triumphal March for the Emperor Maximilian. He also did the marginal decorations for the Emperor's prayer-book and a portrait-drawing of the Emperor shortly before his death in 1519. In the summer of 1520 the desire of Dürer to secure new patronage following the death of Maximilian and an outbreak of sickness in Nuremberg, gave occasion to his fourth and last journey. Together with his wife and her maid he set out in July for the Netherlands in order to be present at the coronation of the new Emperor Charles V. He journeyed by the Rhine, Cologne, and then to Antwerp, where he was well received and produced numerous drawings in silverpoint, chalk or charcoal. Besides going to Aachen for the coronation, he made excursions to Cologne, Nijmwegen, Hertogenbosch, Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Zeeland. He finally returned home in July 1521, having caught an undetermined illness which afflicted him for the rest of his life.

Albrecht DURER (Norimberga 1471 - 1528)

Dürer was a German painter, wood carver, engraver, and mathematician. He is best known for his woodcuts in series, including the Apocalypse (1498), two series on the crucifixion of Christ, the Great Passion (1498-1510) and the Little Passion (1510-11) as well as many of his individual prints, such as Knight, Death, and the Devil(1513) and Melancholia I (1514). Dürer was born in the Imperial Free City of Nuremberg. His family came from the Kingdom of Hungary, germanizing the family name of Thürer when they settled in Nuremberg soon after the middle of the 15th century. His father, also called Albrecht, was a goldsmith and served as assistant to Hieronymus Helfer, marrying his daughter Barbara in 1468. They had eighteen children, Albrecht was the second. Albrecht's brother, Hans Dürer, also became a renowned artist. As a youngster, Albrecht the younger apprenticed under his father, where he learned the fine art of goldsmithing, and to handle a burin. Then at the age of fifteen Dürer was apprenticed to the principal painter of the town, Michael Wolgemut, a prolific if undistinguished producer of small works in the late Gothic style. Dürer learned not only painting but also wood carving and elementary copper engraving under Wolgemut. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1490 he travelled (the so-called Wanderjahre). In 1492 he arrived in Colmar, intending to study under Martin Schöngauer, a well regarded painter-engraver of his time. He found that Schongauer had died the previous year, but he was received kindly by the family of the deceased master there and in Basel. Under them he evidently had some practice both in metal-engraving and in furnishing designs for the woodcutter. He left Basel some time in 1494 and travelled briefly in the Low Countries before he returned to Nuremberg. From this period, little of the work that can be attributed to him with certainty survives, though several of the illustrations of the Nuremberg Chronicle are sometimes attributed to him. On July 9, 1494 Dürer was married, according to an arrangement made during his absence, to Agnes Frey, the daughter of a local merchant. His relationship with his wife is unclear and her reputation has suffered from a posthumous assault by Dürer's friends. He did not remain in Nuremberg long; in the autumn of 1494 he travelled to Italy, leaving his wife at Nuremberg. He went to Venice, evidence of his travels being derived from drawings and engravings that are closely linked to existing northern Italian works by Mantegna, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Lorenzo di Credi and others. Some time in 1495 Dürer must have returned to Nuremberg, where he seems to have lived and worked for possibly the next ten years, producing most of his notable prints. During the first few years from 1495 onwards he worked in the established Germanic and northern forms but was open to the influences of the Renaissance. His best works in this period were for wood-block printing, typical scenes of popular devotion developed into his famous series of sixteen great designs for the Apocalypse, first carved in 1498. Counterpointed with the first seven of scenes of the Great Passion in the same year, and a little later a series of eleven on the Holy Family and of saints. Around 1504-1505 he carved the first seventeen prints of a set illustrating the life of the Virgin. Neither these nor the Great Passion were published till several years later. Dürer trained himself in the more finely detailed and expensive copper-engraving. He attempted no subjects of the scale of his woodcuts, but produced a number of Madonnas, single figures from scripture or of the saints, some nude mythologies, and groups, sometimes satirical, of ordinary people. The Venetian artist Jacopo de Barbari, whom Dürer had met in Venice, came to Nuremberg for a while in 1500. He influenced Dürer with the new developments in perspective, anatomy and proportion, from which Dürer began his own studies. A series of extant drawings shows Dürer's experiments in human proportion, up to the famous engraving of Adam and Eve (1504) which showed his firm and detailed grasp of landscape had extended into the quality of flesh surfaces by the subtlest use of the graving-tool known to him. Two or three other technical masterpieces were produced up to 1505, when he made a second visit to Italy. In Italy he turned his hand to painting, at first producing a series of works by tempera-painting on linen, including portraits and altarpieces, notably the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi. In early 1506 he returned to Venice, and stayed there until the spring of 1507. The occasion of this journey has been erroneously stated by Vasari. Dürer's engravings had by this time attained great popularity and had begun to be copied. In Venice he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of St. Bartholomew. The picture painted by Dürer was closer to the Italian style - the Adoration of the Virgin, also known as the Feast of Rose Garlands; it was subsequently acquired by the Emperor Rudolf II and taken to Prague. Other paintings Dürer produced in Venice include The Virgin and Child with the Goldfinch, a Christ disputing with the Doctors (apparently produced in a mere five days) and a number of smaller works. Despite the regard in which he was held by the Venetians, Dürer was back in Nuremberg by mid-1507. He remained in Germany until 1520. His reputation spread all over Europe. He was on terms of friendship or friendly communication with all the masters of the age, and Raphael held himself honored in exchanging drawings with Dürer. The years between his return from Venice and his journey to the Netherlands are commonly divided according to the type of work with which he was principally occupied. The first five years, 1507-1511, are pre-eminently the painting years of his life. In them, working with a vast number of preliminary drawings and studies, he produced what have been accounted his four best works in painting - Adam and Eve (1507), Virgin with the Iris (1508), the altarpiece the Assumption of the Virgin (1509), and the Adoration of the Trinity by all the Saints (1511). During this period he also completed the two woodcut series of the Great Passion and the Life of the Virgin, both published in 1511 together with a second edition of the Apocalypse series. From 1511 to 1514, Dürer concentrated on engraving, both on wood and copper, but especially the latter. The major work he produced in this period was the thirty-seven subjects of the Little Passion on wood, published first in 1511, and a set of fifteen small copper-engravings on the same theme in 1512. In 1513 and 1514 appeared the three most famous of Dürer's works in copper-engraving, The Knight and Death (or simply The Knight, as he called it, 1513), Melancolia and St Jerome in his Study (both 1514). In the years leading to 1520 he produced a wide range of works. Tempera on linen portraits in 1516. Engravings on many subjects, experiments in etching on plates of iron and zinc. A part of the Triumphal Gate and the Triumphal March for the Emperor Maximilian. He also did the marginal decorations for the Emperor's prayer-book and a portrait-drawing of the Emperor shortly before his death in 1519. In the summer of 1520 the desire of Dürer to secure new patronage following the death of Maximilian and an outbreak of sickness in Nuremberg, gave occasion to his fourth and last journey. Together with his wife and her maid he set out in July for the Netherlands in order to be present at the coronation of the new Emperor Charles V. He journeyed by the Rhine, Cologne, and then to Antwerp, where he was well received and produced numerous drawings in silverpoint, chalk or charcoal. Besides going to Aachen for the coronation, he made excursions to Cologne, Nijmwegen, Hertogenbosch, Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Zeeland. He finally returned home in July 1521, having caught an undetermined illness which afflicted him for the rest of his life.