Coat of Arms with Lion and Rooster

Albrecht Dürer
Coat of Arms with Lion and Rooster

An original Albrecht Dürer engraving.


Original engraving printed in black ink on laid paper bearing the “High Crown” watermark (Meder 20, in use between 1495 and 1525).

Signed on the stone with the artist’s monogram lower right.

A brilliant, black and richly printed 16th century/lifetime Meder “a” (of g) impression, with deep contrasts throughout, the small horizontal scratches charteristic of this state clearly present lower left, showing no wiping marks and no signs of wear.

Catalog: Strauss 31; Bartsch 100; Dodgson 37; Meder 97.a; Panofsky 207; Hollstein 97; Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 35.

As early as 1778, H.S. Hüsgen in his critical catalogue of Dürer engravings characterized this subject as “rare and expensive.” In 1808, Adam Bartsch, the director of the Imperial Gallery in Vienna, in his catalogue on Dürer’s prints praised the work for “its intelligence and excellence of workmanship.” It is, however, by the consensus of most scholars, not intended as the crest of a particular family, but rather “purely a creation of fancy.” The print was usually dated from the same year as “Coat of Arms with a Skull” (B. 101) until Eduard Flechsig in his critical catalogue of 1928 pointed out that the style of the monogram indicates a slightly earlier date, even though both engravings employ the same helmet. Dürer began placing a date on all of his engravings beginning in 1503. In 1943 Erwin Panofsky when commenting on this engraving in his annotated list of Dürer’s works recalled from the tale of Aesop that the rooster was the only animal capable of frightening the lion.

This engraving was given particular praise by the famous 19th century art critic John Ruskin in his Elements of Drawing of 1857 as follows:

Provide yourself, if possible, with an engraving of Albrecht Dürer’s. This you will not be able to copy; but you must keep it beside you, and refer to it as a standard of precision in line. If you can get one with a wing in it, it will be best. The crest with the cock, that with the skull and satyr, and the Melancholy, are the best you can have, but any will do.