Death and rider (c.1496) by Albrecht Durer

Death and rider - Albrecht Durer - c.1496

Artwork Information

TitleDeath and rider
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationStadelsches Kunstinstitut und Stadtische Galerie (Stadel), Frankfurt am Main, Germany

About Death and rider

“Death and the Rider” is an allegorical artwork created around 1496 by Albrecht Dürer, a seminal figure in the Northern Renaissance. This piece is currently housed in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie (Städel Museum) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The genre of the artwork is allegorical, meaning it uses symbolic figures and actions to convey a moral or philosophical message.

The artwork itself portrays a dramatic and unsettling scene with a skeletal figure of Death riding a gaunt horse, looming forcefully over a rider beneath. Death holds an hourglass, a common symbol reminding both the figures in the image and the viewer of the inevitable passing of time and the mortality that awaits everyone. The rider appears to be an armored knight, which may symbolize the futility of strength and armor against the force of death. The horse of the knight is in mid-gallop, adding a sense of urgency to the scene. The detailed linework and the dynamic composition reflect Dürer’s skill with pen and ink, capturing the tension and inevitability of the encounter. The style is typical of the Northern Renaissance, where attention to detail and a focus on symbolic content are emphasized.

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