Feb 15, 2008

The Power of Women: Samson and Delilah

The Power of Women: Samson and Delilah

c. 1512

Lucas van Leyden

(Dutch, 1494–1533)


Image: 41.1 x 28.7 cm (16 3/16 x 11 5/16 in.)

Gift of the Print Club of Cleveland in memory of Charles T. Brooks 1935.117

Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 6



The publication of Albrecht Dürer's three impressive woodcut series in 1511—The Large Passion, The Apocalypse, and The Life of the Virgin—had an immediate impact on Northern painters such as Lucas. Lucas's first major designs for woodcuts were six large images whose theme was the power of women, that is, women's ability to dominate man by using wiles and beauty was a subject with broad, popular appeal at the time. The woodcut medium was eminently suitable for the bold, straightforward manner in which Lucas presented his subjects. The moment representing woman's treachery is always depicted as a restrained confrontation: here, Delilah cuts Samson's hair, sapping his extraordinary strength and leaving him vulnerable to the Philistines who wait in the background to seize him. In size, these woodcuts rival Dürer's largest sheets. The motionless figures possess a monumentality that contributes to the dramatic impact.

See also
PR - Woodcut
Type of artwork: 

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