Pieces of Our Past
May 30, 2014
Artifact: “The Ascension”—Albrecht Dürer Woodcut
Date: c. 1511
Significance: As we celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven, CHI is spotlighting an intricate and magnificent work of art: “The Ascension” woodcut by Albrecht Dürer from his Small Passion series. Called the Small Passion because of the size of the prints—roughly the size of 3×5-inch notecards—the thirty-seven woodcuts first appeared as a book in Nuremberg in 1511. The woodcuts depict scenes from the fall of man (when the need for a Savior arose) to Christ’s life. CHI’s Dürer collection contains more than 40 woodcuts, all of which are on exhibit through July 1, 2014.
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”
Acts 1:9 (ESV)
About the Artist: Albrecht Dürer (b. 1471; d. 1528) was a German Renaissance artist from Nuremberg. While Dürer is most famous for his woodcuts, his work also includes engravings, oil paintings, watercolors and drawings. He often used the Scriptures as his subject matter. Both series in the CHI collection are religious in nature—the Small Passion and the Life of the Virgin. Though he never left the Roman Catholic Church, many of Dürer’s writings show he may have been sympathetic to the Reformation. Today Dürer is often referred to as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance, and some consider him the greatest printmaker of all time.
About Woodcuts: The term woodcut refers to both the printmaking technique using an engraved block of wood and the resulting print. This technique allows for numerous prints to be made before the block wears out. Woodcuts were the main medium for book illustration from the late fifteenth to late sixteenth century.
There is still time to view “Albrecht Dürer: Master Woodcut Artist of the German Renaissance” in the main gallery of CHI (804 Seminary Place) before the exhibit closes on Tuesday, July 1, and the prints return to the CHI vault.