Albrecht Dürer


The Passions usually mean physical and spiritual suffering of Jesus Christ in the last days of his life as a human. This subject was especially popular in Germany in 15th–16th centuries. The Church used the art, especially the woodcut prints, to tell the often illiterate people about the last days of Christ’s life. Already in the Middle Ages the iconography of all the stories was well developed and could be easily recognized. Albrecht Dürer, while depicting the Passions, could add something to the traditional iconography or increase the number of stories depicted.

The cycle Large Passion is made using the technique of woodblock printing. It consists of eleven woodcut prints and a cover page. Dürer started working on this cycle twice. Most woodcuts can be dated 1496–1500. In 1496–1498 Dürer worked on his Apocalypse series but it was at the same time that he created the most dramatic compositions of the Large Passion: Agony in the Garden, Flagellation of Christ, Ecce Homo, The Bearing of the Cross, The Crucifixion, The Lamentation and The Entombment. After his second journey to Italy (1505–1507) the artist finished his work on the series and published it in 1511 in Nuremberg with the Latin text on the reverse, almost at the same time with the cycle Life of the Virgin. After Dürer’s death the series was twice published again: in 1675 in Augsburg and in 1690 in Ulm.

Most prints in the collection of Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts are dated 1511, with the exception of four sheets. One sheet, Christ in Limbo, is a trial impression made in 1510, before all the cycle was published. Others were printed in the end of 16th –17th century.