Martin Schongauer

Between 1473 and 1489

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.

Martin Schongauer’s Passion is made using the technique of copperplate engraving. It preceded the works on similar topic by Albrecht Dürer and was the first Passion in the history of old master prints. The series consists of twelve large (for a copperplate engraving) sheets and is gracefully made. Several compositions of the cycle, e. g. Nativity or Adoration of the Magi were used by Albrecht Dürer in his Life of the Virgin. This Schongauer’s cycle was copied many times.