The Martyrdom of Saint John, 1498



Bequest of Herschel V. Jonesexpand_more  P.68.155

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As godson to publisher Anton Koberger and apprentice to Michael Wolgemut, Albrecht Dürer knew the power of the press and the potential for the printed image. During his twenties, he elevated the craft of woodcut to a fine art. His unbelievably intricate networks of lines present form, light, space, and lithe movement equal to the highest achievements of the draftsman’s art.

One of Dürer’s first great projects was an illustrated edition of The Apocalypse of Saint John, the Book of Revelation. Here he portrays John’s martyrdom. Condemned by Roman Emperor Domitian (51-96 CE) after refusing to renounce his Christian faith, John sits naked in a cauldron, as an executioner excites the flames with a bellows while another pours boiling oil over the saint's body. Domitian is dressed as a Turkish sultan to indicate his hostility to Christianity.

The Martyrdom of Saint John
Artist Life
Accession Number
Vincent Mayer (L. 2525); Knoedler & Co.
Catalogue Raisonne
B.61; M.164; Holl.164 i/iv
Curator Approved

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