Christ in Limbo, 1512

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Durer executed the Engraved Passion during the years 1507-1512, while in his mid-twenties. In the fifteen plates, Durer sought out difficult problems, such as extreme foreshortening. There is a marked darkening of the whole image, while the figures are accented by a restrained, yet expressive light that adds drama to the sombre events. The consistent placement of figures in the foreground unifies the series. Durer customarily sold them as a set, which seems to have been intended for the connoisseur collector.

Christ in Limbo, also entitled the Harrowing of Hell, depicts a passage in the Aprcrophal text of the Bible, the Gospel of Nicodemus. After his Resurrection, Christ descended into Limbo (a border region of Hell, where the just awaited Christ's Redemption), and led the patriarchs, the Old Testament prophets, and Adam and Eve to salvation. The figure of Christ, holding his cross and standard, is seen literally wrenching a good soul from flames and devils.

Christ in Limbo
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
M.16 iii/v; K.59; B.16, 39; D.63
Curator Approved

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