Albrecht Durer, Saint Michael fighting the Dragon

Albrecht DURER

(Nuremberg, 1471 – 1528)

Saint Michael fighting the Dragon

Engraving, 39.3 x 28.3 cm

Signed at lower center “AD” [artist’s monogram]

Presentation

This engraving is a print from the Latin publication of the text of the Apocalypse of 1511. Dürer’s series dedicated to the Apocalypse comprises 15 engravings and a title sheet. The master worked on this series from 1496 to 1498. In 1511, Dürer repeated his Latin edition and provided it with a prohibition on the series being copied. The Apocalypse was intended for extremely varied levels of society. All of the sheets are united by the theme of the battle between good and evil.

The work refers to a quote from the Revelation of St. John the Divine: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” (Rev. 12:7). In the engraving “St. Michael Fighting the Dragon”, Christianity, in the form of the saint, triumphs over evil, embodied in a multi-headed dragon. There are two angels with St. Michael, each of them ready to unleash mortal blows against Satan, with each of the heads being individualized. The scene takes place in an idyllic landscape in the spirit of the “Danube” school, the ideological center of which is the building of a church.

From the technical and artistic point of view, “St. Michael Fighting the Dragon” demonstrates Dürer’s astonishing mastery as an engraver: the high level of the detailing in the images, the dynamism of the composition, the atmospheric perspective, the accuracy of the human proportions. Such apocalyptic images were extremely popular during Dürer’s day, when a belief in coming retribution for sins on the part of the Lord was growing in the population.

Provenance:

Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland

Bibliography:

Kunstberatung Zurich. Old masters and Modern art catalogue: private treasures, Zurich, 2019

Exhibitions:

Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia

La Biennale Paris – GRAND PALAS – 13 – 17 September 2019

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