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

Illustration to Revelationes Sancte Birgitte

British Museum, London

The picture, representing St Bridget and the Virgin interceding for the damned, shows Leaf 11 of the Revelationes Sancte Birgitte.

The Revelationes Sancte Birgitte (The Revelation of St Bridget) was published with Latin text in September 1500 by Koberger in Nuremberg. There also appeared a second edition with German text, also printed by Koberger in July 1502, and a third edition with Latin text, printed by Peypus in Nuremberg in 1517.

The book contains 58 woodcuts on 18 pages, only seven being of the full size of the page, while the others are composed of from two to eight parts. Through repetitions in different combinations the number of 58 woodcuts is produced from 30 blocks.

Bridget was a Swedish noblewoman of royal ancestry who was widowed at about forty with eight children. She retired into a Cistercian nunnery and experienced the first of her many famous visions. In 1346 she founded the Order of the Holy Savour (the "Brigettines"), only to leave the monastery at Vadstena three years later and move to Rome where she lived a life of total conformity to the Gospels, constantly advocating penitence. Her renown as a mystic was considerable and she was consulted by both kings and popes. She strongly advised the latter to return from Avignon to Rome, but was not fortunate enough to see her request granted. The Papacy returned to Rome three years after she died while returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land which, she said, was the high point of her life. She was canonized in 1391. She was the mother of St Catherine of Sweden (or of Vadstena), who survived her by eight years.

The dispute as to Dürer's authorship is in full swing, and the various opponents seem to find even more difficulty in coming to an understanding than was the case with regard to the earlier Basel series of illustrations. In addition to Dürer, the authorship of Wechtlin, Peter Vischer the Elder and Kulmbach is also assumed in the literature.