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

Coat-of-Arms with a Skull

Engraving, 220 x 156 mm
Art Institute, Chicago

This engraving is not mentioned in Dürer's diary of his trip to the Low Countries in 1520/21. The subject seems to be connected with the Bavarian War of 1503. Duke George the Rich had died that year without male issue. Contrary to Imperial law, he left his lands to his daughter. This led to the War of the Bavarian Succession, in which the city of Nuremberg was deeply involved. Her army captured much of the surrounding territory and Nuremberg became the largest of the "free cities" of the Empire. This engraving appears to be an allegory of this war, which ended badly for the ill-advised titled lady. The Emperor deprived her of her lands, while Nuremberg was permitted to retain the conquered territory.