Jun 5, 2006

The Abduction on a Unicorn

The Abduction on a Unicorn


Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471–1528)


John L. Severance Fund 1963.469

Catalogue raisonné: Meder 67a



The volatile mood of this etching starkly contrasts with the abduction scene in Dürer’s Sea Monster. Here, a woman struggles against her male captor as he carries her away on a menacing unicorn with a jagged horn and cloven hoofs. Although unicorns were generally associated with purity, medieval texts also identified the mythical creature as a symbol of evil or death. As with Dürer’s other puzzling scenes of women, scholars have attempted to identify these figures in relationship to classical mythology, in this instance Pluto and Proserpina. This characterization remains vague however; the ominous cloudy sky and savage nature of the event suggests far more sinister circumstances.

See also
PR - Etching
Type of artwork: 

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