DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

Lamentation for the Dead Christ

Woodcut, 395 x 292 mm
British Museum, London

Certain motives of the composition are reminiscent of the ell known pictures at Nuremberg and Munich. But the rigidity of the figure of the dead Christ is unusual and never occurs in Dürer's later works. Perhaps it s taken from the schools of northern Italy where it is of frequent occurrence. Characteristic of north Italian art are also the strange tears of the mourning women; these only occur elsewhere in Dürer's work in his Ecce Homo heads. Perhaps these tears, like the ornamental elaboration of the haloes, are additions, which the woodcutter in Italy choose to make. In the head of St John we find clear influence of Mantegna in the expression and in the classic treatment of the hair. The upper part of the town gateway with its triple round arched finish may have been taken direct from Venetian buildings; also the "aedicula" ornamentation of the door.

The technique of the cutting is peculiar. Notice how the shadow on the ground on the left and at the foot of the block is produced. The surfaces are broken up into short groups of lines of which the ends run together; it is the same with the St Sebastian and the large Crucifixion. Later in the large woodcuts before the Apocalypse and in this itself, white spaces divide the different hatchings. In pen drawings of Dürer we come across ink lines running into one another, which were then found by Dürer or by the cutter working under him, to be graphically ineffective, with the result that the introduction of these white intervals was adopted. From this, it would seem to follow that the cutter did not work under Dürer's eyes in Nuremberg.