Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Engraved Passion (B., M., Holl. 3-18; S.M.S. 45-60)’, 1507-1513, Christie's Old Masters

The complete set of 16 engravings, 1507-1513, most without watermark, M. 4 and 5 with part of a Bull's Head watermark (M. 62), M. 17 with part of a High Crown watermark (M. 20), fine, early impressions, printing with great contrasts and clarity, some Meder a impressions, mostly Meder b and c, a historical, uniform set, with thread margins, trimmed to the platemark or subject in places, all in very good condition.

The Engraved Passion, a series of 16 small plates of almost identical format, was created over a period of six years from 1507 to 1513, and they are regarded as some of Dürer's finest work in the graphic medium. He himself regarded the set highly, and sold it for more than twice the price of the Large Woodcut Passion. He also gave sets to the most prominent and influential patrons he encountered on his travels, including Margaret of Austria and Erasmus of Rotterdam. The personal, bound opy of Frederik the Wise, Prince-Elector of Saxony, is now in the collection of Princeton University.

Whilst the order of the plates is given by the events, it has been questioned whether the last plate, Saint Peter and Saint John at the Gate of the Temple forms part of the series as it does not belong to the narrative of the Passion. Formally and stylistically, however, it clearly does and was probably intended to illustrate the continuation of the spirit of Christ through the Apostles and the Church. This 16th plate, as Panofsky pointed out, also allowed Dürer to print the entire set on four sheets of paper by printing four plates to a sheet.

The Engraved Passion is partly based on a spectacular set of drawings, dated 1504, on paper with a green base heightened with white and black lavis (the so-called 'Green Passion') in the Albertina (W. 300 ff.).

Unidentified brown ink inscription (not in Lugt).

Dr. Edward Peart (1756 or 1758-1824), London and Butterwick (L. 892); probably his anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 12 April 1822 (and following days).

William Esdaile (1758-1837), London (L. 2617), some dated 1823; his sale, Christie's, London, 11-16 June 1840, lot 76 (£5.5s).

About Albrecht Dürer

Considered one of the foremost artists of the Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer’s extensive work in printmaking transformed the categorization of the medium from craft to fine art. Often depicting religious subjects, Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings demonstrated unprecedented technical skill, tonal variation, and compositional sophistication. Dürer theorized extensively on linear perspective and anatomical proportion, concerns that were articulated in a vast body of written work as well as in his paintings and prints. Dürer’s skill earned him the role of court artist for Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, under whom he created a number of paintings and altarpieces. Dürer’s series of self-portraits, created throughout his career, represent some of his most iconic works.

German, 1471-1528, Nuremberg, Germany, based in Nuremberg, Germany