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Christ in Limbo

Albrecht Dürer

German (1471-1528)
Christ in Limbo (1510)
The Louise Crombie Beach Memorial Fund, 2006.1

Through his inventive imagery and technical prowess, Dürer elevated printmaking to the level of an independent art form. Christ in Limbo is one of twelve large woodcuts he designed detailing the Passion of Christ, which were published in book form with a poem by Benedict Schwalbe in 1511.  

The extensive use of hatching to create tonal contrasts in this image is characteristic of Dürer's later style. The artist was greatly influenced by the woodcuts that illustrate the German Bible printed by his godfather, Anton Koberger (an example of which is displayed in this gallery). Unlike those illustrations, however, The Large Passion was never intended to be colored. In fact, the artist’s contemporary, Erasmus of Rotterdam, declared of Dürer’s woodcuts that to add color would be to “injure the work.”

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