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Storytelling in Miniature

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471–1528

St. Anthony

Engraving, 1519
Image: 3 3/4 x 5 1/2 in.
Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward
Drummond Libbey, 1928.173

In all of Albrecht Dürer’s prints light plays an important role. His engravings of this late period are lightly worked, producing prints with a clear, silvery aspect that was new at the time, and in early impressions, extremely expressive. After 1519, Dürer continued to reduce the contrast and tonal range in his prints.

Dürer probably used the horizontal format here—rare for his prints—to accommodate the broad cityscape. The contour of the city mimics the shape of the figure of St. Anthony, the first Christian hermit monk, seated in the foreground and reading. The plate shows signs of wear in this impression as the tonal differences are lessened, merging the saint with the background.