Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1507 – 1508) by Albrecht Durer

Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand - Albrecht Durer - 1507 - 1508

Artwork Information

TitleMartyrdom of the Ten Thousand
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Date1507 - 1508
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationAlbertina, Vienna, Austria

About Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand

The “Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand” is an artwork created by Albrecht Dürer between 1507 and 1508, situated in the period of the Northern Renaissance. It is a sketch and study and is housed at the Albertina museum in Vienna, Austria. Dürer was a prominent figure in the Northern Renaissance, known for his high-quality woodcut prints and influence on the art of his time.

This intricate drawing depicts a chaotic and dense scene filled with figures, illustrating the legendary martyrdom of ten thousand Christian soldiers supposedly ordered by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. However, the historical accuracy of this event is debated. The sketch is detailed and seems to be a preparatory study for a larger work, showcasing groups of figures amidst violent and gruesome acts indicating their torture and execution. Soldiers and executioners are shown engaged in the act of killing, while the victims are varied in their reactions, from resigned to agonized. The scene is complex, with bodies overlapping and the composition filled with dynamic lines, reflecting the turmoil and horror associated with the event. The date and Dürer’s monogram can be seen at the bottom of the drawing, denoting his authorship and the time of creation.

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