The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals (1511) by Albrecht Durer

The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals - Albrecht Durer - 1511

Artwork Information

TitleThe Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), Paris, France

About The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals

“The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals” is a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, created in 1511 as part of his “Apocalypse” series during the Northern Renaissance. This religious painting belongs to the collection housed at the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris, France.

The artwork is a detailed and dramatic representation of a scene from the biblical Book of Revelation. In the upper portion, we see figures in the heavens, with angels and possibly depictions of Christ and other holy figures amidst the clouds, set against a backdrop of celestial bodies like the sun and moon. Some angels are seen holding instruments of passion or objects associated with the divine judgment.

Directly beneath the heavenly scene, beams of light emanate downward. In the lower part of the woodcut, the earthly realm is filled with a multitude of people in various states of distress or appeal. The figures are portrayed with vivid expressions and dynamic postures, suggesting movement, chaos, and emotional intensity that accompany the apocalyptic event. Some individuals are looking upwards, some are in postures of prayer, and others appear to be collapsing or cowering in fear. The level of detail and expressive line work are characteristic of Dürer’s woodcuts and are indicative of the masterful craftsmanship of the Northern Renaissance era.

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