ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
The Four Horsemen, from: The Apocalypse
woodcut, circa 1497-98, on laid paper, without watermark, a fine, strong, clear and even impression from the rare German text edition of 1498, Meder a (before the vertical crack from the lower edge into Death's foot), trimmed on or just inside the borderline, the upper right sheet corner made up, the other sheet corners also repaired and partially made up, a repaired paper split in the clouds at upper left, the subject otherwise in good condition
Sheet 394 x 279 mm.

Please note this lot is the property of a private collector.
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Lot Essay

.. and I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
(Revelation 6.8)

The Four Horsemen is arguably the most dramatic and dynamic of all of Dürer's compositions. We see the four horsemen as they burst out of heaven, one after the other, and thunder over the earth. Death is the last to come, grinning triumphantly on his haggard old mare. The mouth of hell opens up below, devouring a 'lord of the earth' - perhaps a bishop or king. No-one is spared, women, men, clerics, monks and peasants all fall beneath their hoofs.

Everything conveys a sense of violence and rupture. The four riders are barely contained within the image as the right borderline cuts through an arrow, the horse's head and the peasant falling in the foreground. Erwin Panofsky observed that the three horses in the air are shown at different intervals of their galloping movement, thereby creating the impression of time and continuity, not unlike Eadweard Muybridge's photographic recordings of bodies in motion almost five hundred years later.

The Apocalypse was published by Dürer himself, the first illustrated book ever published by an artist. The first edition of 1498 was issued in two versions, one with Latin text on the reverse and the other with German text. Of the two, the present German text edition is considerably rarer. A second edition was published in 1511, with Latin text only. This edition was larger in size and less carefully printed. The images look uneven and dry, compared to the very clear and strong impressions from the 1498 edition with German text, such as the one offered here.

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