The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1508) by Albrecht Durer

The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand - Albrecht Durer - 1508

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions99 x 87 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

About The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand

“The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand,” created by Albrecht Durer in 1508, is an oil on panel artwork reflecting the Northern Renaissance art movement. The artwork measures 99 by 87 centimeters and portrays a religious scene. It is currently housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. This genre painting exemplifies Durer’s skill and the influence of the Northern Renaissance movement, characterized by an emphasis on detail and complex compositions.

The artwork depicts a harrowing scene of mass martyrdom from Christian tradition, where ten thousand Christians are said to have been crucified on Mount Ararat, upon the order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Durer’s portrayal is dense with figures arrayed across a rugged landscape; the composition is bustling with activity and brutality. The viewer’s gaze is led through various planes of action, witnessing multiple episodes of suffering and execution, thereby conveying the enormity and chaos of the historical event. The figures are rendered with intense emotion and dramatic expressions— capturing the horror of martyrdom. The use of color, detailed costumes, and varied postures of the figures reflect Durer’s mastery of oil painting and contribute to the overall impression of a tragic yet sacred event, infused with religious fervor and the ethos of sanctity through suffering.

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