Jun 5, 2006

Knight, Death, and the Devil

Knight, Death, and the Devil


Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471–1528)


Support: Cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 24.4 x 19 cm (9 5/8 x 7 1/2 in.)

Elisabeth Severance Prentiss and Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Collections by exchange 1965.231

Catalogue raisonné: Meder 1932, 74a/g


Did you know?

The personification of Death in this image holds an hourglass whose sands are exactly half full, which may indicate a turning point in the rider's life choices.


In this tour de force engraving, considered one of his three greatest “masterworks,” Albrecht Dürer portrayed a mounted soldier who resolutely forges through a dark gorge, ignoring a horned devil in his path. Confronted by Death itself, crowned with snakes and holding an hourglass indicating mortality, the soldier and his faithful dog demonstrate the strength of righteousness required to stay upon the right path. The skull underfoot suggests that others have not been
so resolute. Indeed, this road of life is full of obstacles, with the city on the hill accessible, it seems, only by way of treacherous peaks.

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