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Coat of Arms with Skull

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Image of Coat of Arms with Skull

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Albrecht Dürer
German (1471 - 1528) Primary

Coat of Arms with Skull

1503, printed in the artist's lifetime
Engraving on laid paper
State: Printed in the artist's lifetime

8 9/16 in. x 6 1/8 in. (21.75 cm x 15.56 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 1998.1.1
Geography: Europe, Germany
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Prints; Engravings
Culture/Nationality: German
Bryn Mawr College, Rhys Carpenter Library, Level A

Albrecht Dürer is widely regarded as one of the most influential and revolutionary printmakers of all time. This print shows Dürer at his finest, exercising the engraver's needle with great agility.

In this print, an ornately dressed woman is accosted by a bearded man whose staff supports a shield decorated with a skull. The subject matter remains a mystery to scholars, who have alternately explained it as an allusion to the War of the Bavarian Succession in 1503, an example of the "wild man" motif, and a memento mori.

From the pleats of the woman's costume to the frothy curls atop the man's head, each precise line is exquisitely realized, revealing the studied form and naturalistic detail of the Italian masters whom Dürer admired.

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