Major Exhibition of the Rare First Edition 10 December 2016 - 10 January 2017.
From the expulsion of man from the Garden of Eden to the final judgment of an ascendant Christ, Albrecht Dürer’s breathtaking Small Passion, widely considered the old master’s magnum opus, has moved viewers for over half a millennium.
Born in 1471 in the wealthy, commercial city of Nuremberg, Dürer apprenticed as a painter and printmaker before setting out on his own in the late 1490s. Travelling across Europe, he quickly garnered a reputation for his immense talents and natural charisma, becoming increasingly popular in Italy where he had lived and worked in the bustling town of Venice.
Completed between 1509 and 1511, the engraving of the final set of images was undertaken by master craftsmen in Dürer’s workshop, apprentices working under the constant and fastidiously strict supervision of the artist himself. Under Dürer’s punishing watch, and with his occasional contribution to the cutting, the translation of each image from pen drawing to woodblock was immaculate. First published as a complete set in 1511, the Small Passion became a huge success, prompting widespread distribution throughout pre-Lutheran Germany and propelling Dürer’s reputation into the latter-day spotlight. A religious, artistic tour-de-force, the suite demonstrated the tremendous physical and mental energy of its author, as described by the artist and critic Nigel Lambourne: …the confidence and swaggering vigour of the cut is sustained in every illustration…when the variable and often indifferent quality of the woodblock is fully appreciated, these prints may then be properly seen as unique technical masterpieces.
Exceptionally composed and exquisitely detailed, it is little wonder that Dürer’s Small Passion captured the heart of 16th century Europe, and that subsequent editions have been produced right up until the early years of the 1900s. With the deterioration of the original blocks, few later reproductions can match the first edition for quality of image and inking.
Prints as early as these remain extremely scarce; this collection offers a profoundly rare opportunity to own one of the old world’s greatest printing accomplishments.