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Old 2nd November 2020, 08:30 PM   #1
shayde78
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Default Arms and Armor in the works of Albrecht Dürer

Here is another project I’ve been working on. Albrecht Dürer is one of the illustrators of the Guttenberg Chronicle (to view the thread on that work, see here - http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=26105) that contributed his talents to some of the woodblocks used in that work. To be fair, he was likely an apprentice at that point, but some of his later skills were starting to emerge. Also, wood block printing doesn't allow the same level of detail as engravings.

Dürer lived from 1471 – 1528, and truly gained prominence in the mid-1490s, spending time in Germany (the country of his birth) as well as Italy. He was a master in multiple media. However, being a sound pragmatist, he preferred engravings because he could work on a single piece, have several printings commissioned, and the investment of his talents would continue to pay dividends. Compared to working on a single painting for a single commission, he recognized how much more efficient engraving and printing would be. I find this fortunate, because the detail he was able to achieve in his engravings make them a valuable resource for studying Europe in the late 15th, early 16th centuries.
As it relates to the subject matter of arms and armor, Dürer was more than simply a casual observer. His engravings reveal a clear familiarity with and understanding of the tools of the warfare of his day. If further evidence is needed, illustrations he prepared for a Fechtbuch survive showing he understood the use of arms, not just their aesthetic qualities. Additionally, Dürer authored a treatise on the design of fortifications, demonstrating the level of thought he applied to these matters.
So, to serve as a reference for members of this forum, I went through Walter . Strauss’ “The Complete Engravings, Etchings, and Drypoints of Albrecht Dürer” from 1973. From this volume, I identified the works that include representations of armor, swords, knives, arrows/bolt, pole arms, etc. These show not only the details of the arms themselves, but also how they were carried, the accessories like belts, sheaths, saddle rings, and the like. I have tried to post these images in chronological order in which Dürer completed them so that they can be fixed in their corresponding time. I will also try to include only a single picture per post so that they can be easily referenced for discussion. I mention the book I used as reference, because I have subsequently found other works not included in this text. After I have posted, if other wish to add to this thread additional works they can attribute to this specific artist, feel free to do so.


I hope this information is useful, and as I’ve said in similar threads, this is my way to contribute to and repay the generous sharing of expertise that members of this forum have demonstrated over the years.

To kick off, a piece titled, "Five Lansquents and an Oriental* on Horseback" from 1495.

*I use the title of the work, acknowledging that the use of the word 'Oriental' to describe a person is offensive.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 08:33 PM   #2
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This one is called "The Small Courier" from 1496. The head of the Courier is thought to be another representation of the face on the fellow to the right of the work in the previous post.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:04 PM   #3
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This one is called, "The Cook and His Wife" from 1496.

I like seeing images of the more mundane utility knives (like the one at the cook's waist), and feel they can help distinguish between these and more elaborate forms from the same period.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:07 PM   #4
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This is titled "Oriental* Family", from 1496.
The bow, when compared to those of Europe at the time, seems to well reflect a bow from the East.


*I use the title of the work, acknowledging that the use of the word 'Oriental' to describe a person/people is offensive
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:14 PM   #5
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This one is titled, "Rustic Couple" dated 1497.
Some have interpreted this as an intoxicated Lansquenet menacing either his wife or another woman. I'm curious if the hilt of his knife indicates a knightly class, or a more humble station.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:20 PM   #6
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"Three Peasants in Conversation", dated 1497.

Note the hilt in the belt on the right is similar to the previous image. Also, the use of a sword as a cane was a satirical trope of the period. The tattered appearance of the sheath likely indicates some level of disdain. Also, a 'peasant' wearing spurs may indicate a man who fancies himself 'above his station' in a rigidly stratified society. Or, I could simply be unaware that peasant would have occasion to wear spurs.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayde78
This is titled "Oriental* Family", from 1496.
The bow, when compared to those of Europe at the time, seems to well reflect a bow from the East.


*I use the title of the work, acknowledging that the use of the word 'Oriental' to describe a person/people is offensive


Why ”offensive” to describe someone as oriental??

It’s interesting that he came in contact with people from the Orient at that time, when traveling was so ardous and fraught with danger. Presumably it was from his time in Italy. It’s my impression that people traveled more in old days than imagined!

He’s a great artist showing details in a realistic way.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:25 PM   #8
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"Lady on Horseback and Lansquenet", 1497

Nice halberd and sword hilt visible. Also, good representation of an ostrich feather, which adorned the helms of knights of the era, here atop the young lady's head.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Why ”offensive” to describe someone as oriental??



Good question - I have received pretty universal feedback from folks who are Asian that 'oriental' should be used to refer to objects (arms, carpets, etc.), while people should be referred to as 'Asian', or more specifically, to the region and/or country being referenced (i.e. Persian, South Asian, etc.).
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
It’s interesting that he came in contact with people from the Orient at that time, when traveling was so ardous and fraught with danger. Presumably it was from his time in Italy. It’s my impression that people traveled more in old days than imagined!

He’s a great artist showing details in a realistic way.


I agree that the large cities in Europe (especially the Mediterranean) likely saw residents and visitors from many regions. Warfare also brought people into contact with one another. Travel was how commerce was transacted, so there was a great deal more travel than we tend to consider. It wasn't cheap or safe, but it happened.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:34 PM   #11
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"Young Couple Threatened by Death", 1498

Almost a hanger-like style. I believe there is meant to be a spirit of ease portrayed by the young couple, unaware, as youth often is, that death stalks everyone. If this was indeed the intent, then the choice of sword represented could be intentionally one that would have been worn with civilian dress at times when no threat was expected, but was still prepared for. Similar to the so called 'pillow swords' of later eras. I admit, I take a lot of leaps with my interpretation of this one.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:38 PM   #12
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"The Sea Monster", 1498.

I included this one as the figure on the far shore has a sword at his waist. There isn't much detail here, but I am trying to include all the works that portray a weapon of some type. The sword looks like a shamshir, but again, detail isn't great.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:50 PM   #13
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"Sol Justitiae", 1499

The year 1499 was experienced with a great deal of anxiety in Nuremberg and across Europe. If we recall the anxiety around the end of 1999 (Y2K?), we can relate how we pick arbitrary dates and whole numbers to believe the end of the world is near. The Emperor's army was defeated in the Swiss War. The authorities 'expelled' Jewish families from Nuremberg. Fierce, divine judgement fit the spirit of the day. The style of the sword hilt recalls similar hilts held by similarly divine figures in the Nuremberg Chronicle.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:54 PM   #14
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"St. Sebastian at the Column", 1499

The violent fates of Saints were a popular subject for artists throughout the last 200 years. I present this one simply for the arrow fletching portrayed. Sebastian is a subject of a number of subsequent works, but his end is unfortunate in all.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:57 PM   #15
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"Coat of Arms with a Rooster", 1500.

I like simple titles. It isn't thought that this is a coat specific to any family, but does nicely depict a helm of the time period.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:58 PM   #16
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I'm about a third of the way through my list of works. I'll post more here soon when I am able to steal some additional time. Hope these are interesting to those who have taken a look thus far.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:06 AM   #17
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"St. Sebastian at the Tree", 1501

Another depiction of Sebastian, this time at a tree. The arrows don't actually intersect the figure, and it is thought that this originally was meant yo depict Marsyas tied to a tree, but adding the arrows made it more marketable as iconography of a Saint.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:09 AM   #18
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"St. Eustace", 1501

Durer's largest engraving. A good example of a hand-and-a-half hilt and a bullock dagger,
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:12 AM   #19
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"The Standard Bearer", 1502
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:14 AM   #20
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"St. George on Foot", 1502

Another hand-and-half sword and some nice details on the armor.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:19 AM   #21
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"Apollo and Diana", 1502

A European bow? Or one from the East to show the exotic nature of the gods? Also, isn't Diana supposed to have the bow?
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:21 AM   #22
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"Coat of Arms with Skull", 1503

Another nicely depicted helm, this time in profile.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:23 AM   #23
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First image, "The Small Horse", 1505
Second image, "The Large Horse", 1505

I felt like these should be posted together (so the horse had company).
Nice pole arms.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:26 AM   #24
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"St. George on Horseback", 1505 (completed 1508)

Nice armor detail
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:30 AM   #25
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"Agony in the Garden", 1508

The artist's interpretation of archaic sword?
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:45 AM   #26
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The next few are from a series depicting the Passion of Christ.
In order below:

"Christ Before Caliphas", 1512
Good depiction of pole arms, similar to some I highlighted in the Nuremberg Chronicle.

"Christ Before Pilate", 1512
Interesting swords, pole arms, but also a neat looking war hammer

"Flagellation", 1512
Sword hilt, forward curved quillions

"Christ Crowned with Thorns", 1512
A rondel dagger on the kneeling figure's hip

"Ecce Homo", 1512
Bullock dagger at hip

"Pilate Washing his Hands", 1512
Pole arms in background

"Bearing of the Cross", 1512
Similar to the earlier image of the three peasants, notice the damaged scabbard. A sign of disdain? A common occurrence among the poorer classes?
Also, some pole arms, and a holy water spinkler mace head in the background?

"Resurrection", 1512
Pole arm, war hammer
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:50 AM   #27
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"Knight, Death, and the Devil", 1513
One of the more well known of Durer's work, and one that has been posted more than once elsewhere on this forum. Good detail on the sword, armor, horse's tack, etc. A well executed piece, all around.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:51 AM   #28
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"St. Thomas", 1514
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:54 AM   #29
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"Peasant Couple Dancing", 1514
I like these rustic scenes! It is subtle, but the knife at the woman's hip is interesting since we often see folks on this forum ask, could this be a woman's knife? Seems the woman's knife here is of the same proportions as others the artist has etched.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 02:55 AM   #30
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"Bagpiper", 1514

Short sword on a Highlander's hip? I'm guessing bagpipes weren't limited to north of Hadrian's Wall.
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