Saturday, June 06, 2009

Albrecht Dürer and the Holy Trinity

Albrecht Dürer
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Anbetung der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit/ The Adoration of the Trinity
Oil on lindenwood, 135 x 123,4 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Dürer created this single panel altarpiece for the wealthy merchant Matthäus Landauer. It was for a chapel of an institution founded by the merchant.

The chapel was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The first sketch for the picture was made in 1508.

The artist depicts himself in the earthly zone in the manner of a secondary portrait.

The client is the only layperson portrayed in the group of clergymen on the left, and he is being received into the heavenly community by a cardinal.

It may be considered as the apotheosis of Durer`s work for the Roman Catholic Church

Albrecht Dürer (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
The Holy Trinity 1511
Woodcut print on paper made by Albrecht Dürer
399 millimetres x: 285 millimetres
The British Museum, London

The Holy Trinity, with the dead Christ being supported by God the Father in Heaven, crowned by the Holy Spirit, surrounded by angels holding the instruments of the passion; underneath the four winds blowing

The British Museum Catalogue entry for this piece states:

“'This ... represent the pinnacle of Dürer's achievement in the woodcut technique. In no other woodcut does he achieve such a subtle representation of shape and depth through using a system of parallel lines, cross hatching and dashes of varying degrees of density. Nor in any other woodcut does he use the white areas of the paper to heighten parts of his composition with such dramatic effect.

A massive painted copy of this print was used as the basis for the temporary decoration designed by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel for the Dürer festivities in Berlin in 1828 (see U. Kuhlemann, pp. 39-60). It was designed in the shape of an altarpiece, with the Holy Trinity in a tympanum above, and a sculptured effigy of Dürer with personifications of the arts below (see Bialostocki pp. 122ff.)'”

Dürer’s religious woodcuts established iconographic models would be widely disseminated throughout Europe and America over the centuries to come