The Four Avenging Angels from the 'Apocalypse'

This woodcut print is vertically oriented. The upper half of the piece is celestial with an angel standing on a cloud blowing a trumpet. Men on fire-breathing beasts exit from the clouds. At the very top center, a white-bearded figure, shown from the torso to the head, holds four trumpets. Rays emanate from his head to form a halo, and he is framed in a half circle. Directly below him is an altar with vines on the sides and four child-faces spitting water out. The upper right corner features an angel blowing a trumpet and the upper left features a smiling angel with hands clasped in prayer. The lower half of the print is terrestrial and depicts a chaotic battle scene. Four angels with wings and swords attack a crowd of men, including a pope, a bishop and a king, as well as commoners. These figures are all crowded into the foreground with contorted postures. There is a city on a hill visible in the distance. The center bottom has Dürer’s signature of letter "D" contained within a letter "A".
Albrecht Dürer
1496-1498
This print is one of 15 woodcuts by Dürer that depicted scenes of the Apocalypse as described by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelations of the New Testament in the Bible (Revelations 9:13-21). Here, following the sounding of the sixth trumpet, four angels were released to kill a third of mankind. Dürer has followed the wording of the text closely, including the four-cornered altar, the trumpeting angel and the horse and riders in the upper (heavenly) section of the work. But, it is in the earthly realm, in the lower section, that he dramatically portrays the death and destruction of mankind described by John. Four warrior angels stand, swinging their swords, amidst dead and fallen figures of men with looks of horror as they are slain.
Gift of the Friends of the Museum of Art in honor of Bret Waller
1980/1.214
Wednesday, December 1, 2021