Meisterstiche (Dürer)

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The Meisterstiche ("master prints") by Dürer are three of his most famous engravings. They are Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), Melencolia I (1514) and St. Jerome in His Study (1514). These three large (about 7 by 10 inches) prints are often grouped together because of their perceived quality and unity of meaning, although this latter is a matter of scholarly dispute.

Panofsky has described them as showing meticulous care in execution and also have complexity and significance in terms of iconography. Panofsky while recognising that these are Durer's "most famous engravings" and are "not unjustly, known as his "Meisterstiche" notes that they "have no appreciable compositional relationship with one another" and should not, in any technical sense be "considered as "companion pieces". They do, Panofsky argues form "a spiritual unity". Here Panofsky refers to Friedrich Lippmann's noticing of the scholastic classification of the virtues they represent; the moral, the theological and the intellectual. The Knight showing "the life of the Christian in the practical world of decision and action"; St.Jerome showing "the life of the Saint in the spiritual world of sacred contemplation"; and Melencolia I showing the "life of the secular genius in the rational and imaginative worlds of science and art". [1][2]


  1. ^ Panofsky, Erwin (1943) Albrecht Dürer, Volume 1, Princeton University Press, page 151
  2. ^ Panofsky, E (1955)The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer, Princeton University Press, 3rd Edition (1st Edition 1943) p151

Other sources[edit]

  • Grigg, Robert (1986) "Studies on Dürer's Diary of His Journey to the Netherlands: The Distribution of the" Melencolia I"." Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte, 398-409.
  • Filippi, Elena, and Michael Friel. (1995) Albrecht Dürer's Meisterstiche: proposal for an historical-epochal reading. University of Chicago, Chicago
  • Lippmann, F. (1883-1929) Zeichnungen von Albrecht Durer in Nachbildungen (7 vols., vols. VI and VII F. Winkler, ed.), Berlin