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DURER, Albrecht (1471-1528). The Babylonian Whore. Nuremberg, 1498.

DURER, Albrecht (1471-1528). The Babylonian Whore. Nuremberg, 1498.

55,000.00
Single sheet, float mounted and framed (sheet size: 15 ½ x 11 inches; frame size: 20 ½ x 16 ¼ inches). Fine engraving. CONDITION REPORT: Trimmed on the outer edge of the black border line, with partial thread margins.

First German text edition, early issue. Hollstein 2a with the following imprint: "Ein ende hat das buch...Gedrucket zu Nurnbergk durch Albrecht Durer maler nach Christi geburt M.cccc. vnd darnach im xcviij jar."; but before the cracks in the millstone and dragon's neck have emerged; no discernible watermark, as expected. No impressions of Hollstein 1 are known to exist, making this among the earliest impressions available. "The Apocalypse was Durer's first major work. That this was a breakthrough in his career indicates, tellingly, that he thought in terms and images of the printed book. The Apocalypse appeared simultaneously in two separate editions with separate titles: 'Apocalipsis Cum Figuris' and 'Die heimlich offenbarung iohannis' ('The Apocalypse with Pictures' and 'The Hidden Revelation of John'). The Latin version reprints the text of Jerome's Vulgate with Jerome's introduction; the German edition reprints the text of the Koberger Bible of 1483, the most fluent of the German translations to be printed before Luther's version" (Price, p. 34).

"Reformation polemic was accompanied by visual illustration. The German artist Albrecht Durer's woodcuts in his 1498 "Apocalypse" became the precedent for most post-Reformation illustrations of Revelation. Durer's representation of the Whore of Babylon inscribes political and religious differences in and through particular bodies: female, monstrous, angelic, heroic. The body of the Whore is itself an allegorical text to be deciphered and read. Her lavish clothing, jewelry, and gem-encrusted crown mark her as a prostitute, one who has enriched herself on the trade and exchange of others: the elaborate chalice she holds aloft conceals the wine of her (economic) fornication. The true monstrousness of the seemingly beautiful woman is revealed by the beast upon which she rides, with its grotesque heads of goats, asses, and birds, its monstrously scaly skin, its distended claw-feet, and its twisting tail.

"In the Durer engraving, female and bestial bodies emblematize the corruption of pagan Rome, which - in its literal form as a city - burns in the upper right-hand corner of the engraving. Durer also depicts the angelic forces that are arrayed against evil. The deceptively beautiful woman and the seven-headed, ten-horned beast upon which she rides are counterpoised in the upper left hand of the engraving by the heroic figures of the heavenly army, following the rider Faithful and True. But the foreground of the engraving belongs to the monstrous and aberrant: the harlot, the false prophet (with a turban), and the gaping crowd that appears foolishly susceptible to the harlot's wiles" (Knoppers, p. 104).

Laura Lunger Knoppers, ed., "Monstrous Bodies/Political Monstrosities in Early Modern Europe." David Price, "Albrecht Durer's Renaissance: Humanism, Reformation, and the Art of Faith." Bartsch 73; Meder 177.
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