AGONY IN THE GARDEN

Albrecht Dürer
AGONY IN THE GARDEN
engraving
1508

An original Albrecht Dürer engraving.

1508

Original engraving printed in black ink on laid paper.

Dated and signed with the artist’s monogram in the plate on a tablet lower right. 

A strong, dark 16th century/lifetime Meder “a-b” (of e) impression.  One of fifteen plates comprising the Engraved Passion.  Bearing an unidentified collection stamp in blue ink verso.

Catalog: Bartsch 4; Dodgson 50; Panofsky 111; Meder 4.a-b; Strauss 48; Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 46.

The Engraved Passion is composed of fifteen engravings.  Five were engraved between 1507 and 1511 and the remaining ten in 1512. Unlike the woodcut books, the Passion engravings were not accompanied by text, but from Dürer’s Netherlands diary, we know that he customarily sold them as a set. Dürer’s engravings are more somber and restrained in their presentation of Christ’s passion than either the large or small woodcut versions.  The fineness of the engraved lines enabled Dürer to suggest in these scenes an almost spiritual light. The same fineness also made possible a greater exploration of facial expression, thereby expanding psychological dimensions.

The Engraved Passion scenes have a compelling forthrightness and grandeur owing to the prominence of the participants who occupy most of the available space. The consistent placement of the figures in the foreground unifies the series.

Dürer defied the limits of the shallow space by two devices: either parallel shading lines that depict darkness or dark toned architectural backgrounds.  Both shading and architecture often serve as an intermediate tone between the dark shadows and the highlights created by the blank paper. This increased tonal range and the shallow space combine to produce an effect of high relief sculpture.

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