Coat of Arms with a Skull

Albrecht Dürer

Coat of Arms with a Skull



227 x 170 mm. 9 x 6 ¾ in.

David Tunick, Inc.

New York, NY


Above $100,000

More Information

Dimensions: 227 x 170 mm. 9 x 6 ¾ in. References: Bartsch 101; Meder 98 a (of d); Schoch, Mende and Scherbaum 37 Watermark: Meder 20, High Crown Provenance: Christie’s London 19 Nov. 1994 (lot 59); to David Tunick, Inc., New York; 1995 to Private collection, New York In this rich and imaginative engraving, Dürer has complexly engaged heraldic elements with the overlapping motifs of Memento mori, the Dance of Death, and the mystery of love. A wild man symbolic of Germany’s mythic past accosts a patrician woman in contemporary Nuremberg dance costume and bridal crown. The folkloric figure reveals himself as a surrogate of Death through the skull on his heraldic shield. The maiden, however, cannot see this symbol, as she coyly wraps her hand around the strap that connects the heraldic helmet, mantling, and shield. The figure and his skull warn against the vanity of earthly status symbols and the transience of youthful beauty. This stunning early impression, full of rich contrast, demonstrates Dürer’s absolute mastery of the engraving medium. Every detail has been skillfully rendered. Most exquisite is Dürer’s treatment of texture, elaborated in the glittering crown, metallic helmet, bony skull, and soft feathers.