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(German, c. 1480-1538)
John L. Severance Fund 1952.40.d
Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 40-5 ; Bartsch VIII.73.5
These eight woodcuts come from a series of forty which illustrate the story of Christian redemption from original sin to the Last Judgement. Probably to maximize printing efficiency and quality, eight woodblocks were printed on each of five sheets of paper, but the subjects are not in the correct chronological order. Prior to sale, the sheets were cut into eight pieces. The sheets in the museum's set were only cut in half, preserving four prints per page. The numbers after the titles of the individual images indicate each scene's place within the narrative. By 1513, Altdorfer had already executed a number of small, finely detailed engravings. Because it is difficult to achieve the same degree of precision using woodcut, The Fall and Redemption of Man is a technical tour de force. Probably inspired by Albrecht Dürer's Small Passion (1511)-but almost double the size-the only contemporaneous comparable set of fine miniature woodcuts, Dance of Death, was designed by Hans Holbein in about 1526 (on view nearby).
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