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.

Between 1507 and 1513, Dürer worked on two series of the same name in different techniques. Simultaneously with the woodcut cycle Passion he created a copperplate series Passion. The earliest sheet of the cycle is dated 1507, the latest 1513, most plates were engraved in 1512.

The series consists of fifteen engravings and a cover page. Every sheet is clearly composed and its details are very precise and subtle. In many compositions it is possible to see the influence of Martin Schongauer. From the technical point of view Dürer greatly surpassed his teacher. The cycle had an extraordinary success and was published again and again in 16th and 17th centuries.

If the woodcuts were destined to the broad public, the engraved Passion was made for the learned contemporaries of the artist and was admired by them. Dürer himself had a special appreciation for this series and often gave its sheets as gifts to the friends. He took it with him to the Netherlands to make presents.

All the prints of that cycle in the collection of the Pushkin Museum of fine arts date from different periods.