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19th Century Art

108

Albrecht Dürer

1471 – Nuremberg – 1528

”Der heilige Eustachius”. Circa 1501

Copper engraving on laid paper (watermark: Großer Bär (Meder 87, between 1525 and 1540)). 35,1 × 25,7 cm. (13 ⅞ × 10 ⅛ in.) On the reverse lower right with the collector's mark Lugt 4096. Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch 57 / Meder 60 e (of k) / Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 32 e (of k). Overall very fine, evenly, clear print. Presumably still during the artist's lifetime, or shortly after his death.  [3088]

ProvenanceFormerly Roger Passeron, France

Addendum/ErratumThe correct measurements are: 35,1 × 25,7 cm (13 7/8 × 10 1/8 in.).

EUR 40.000 – 60.000
USD 44,400 – 66,700

Sold for:
60,000 EUR (incl. premium)

„Der heilige Eustachius“

Auction 340Wednesday, 1 June 2022
03:00 PM

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Gilded and Praised

Albrecht Dürer's engraving of St. Eustace is not only one of his most magnificent, richly detailed works - it is also Dürer's largest engraving ever created. As a showpiece of his mastery, Dürer passed on at least six prints of "Eustachius" during his Dutch journey (1520-1521). The print with its lush, rich scenery was known as far away as Italy. Giorgio Vasari expressly praised the greyhounds, which "could not be more beautiful". The appreciation of contemporaries perhaps reaches its peak in the legend that Emperor Rudolf II had the printing plate of Eustachius in his possession gilded in Prague.
Dürer depicts a richly shaped, rugged, towering rocky landscape - overgrown with deciduous and coniferous trees - with a castle rising into the sky at its summit. A hunt has come to a halt: in front stands calmly the bridled horse, five hounds rest sitting and lying down. The hunter, on his knees, turns to the stag framed by trees and bearing a cross in his antlers. This reveals the subject of the engraving: the conversion of the Roman officer Placidus to Christianity. To him the stag spoke with the voice of Christ: "Eustachius, why do you hunt me, believe me, I am Christ and have long hunted after you." Thereupon the hunter converted and took the name Eustachius (Greek: the steadfast). In Dürer's time he became one of the most popular saints. Eustachius was not only one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers so often invoked at the time, but also - like Saint Hubert - the patron saint of hunters.
But when looking at the engraving, it seems as if the depiction of the saint's story takes a back seat to the multitude of individual engraved motifs. The richly illustrated sheet is dominated by the size and lightness of the horse, which reveals Dürer's studies of the animal's ideal proportions. For example, the transition from the neck to the rump follows the course of a circular path. Dürer presents the greyhounds like individual studies of nature - each in a new view and without overlapping. This display of nature study, the multitude of individual motifs and the search for ideal proportions make "Eustachius" one of Dürer's most varied pieces of art. Constanze Hager

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