September 28, 2017
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Saints Lawrence, Sixtus, and Stephen, c.1504, woodcut, 8 1/4 x 5 5/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
Today’s Artwork of the Day is a beautiful woodcut print by German printmaker Albrecht Dürer. The print shows three Christian Saints and manifests Dürer’s artistic mastery as the preeminent printmaker of the Renaissance. His prints were widely disseminated and garnered great popularity during his lifetime. Though the figures of the three saints in this print are somewhat elongated, Dürer’s understanding of human anatomy is evident in the round naturalism of their forms. The heavy robes of the three saints fall in voluminous folds, exaggerating their height.
Each saint is identifiable through his traditional symbols: Stephen holds the palm branch and stones; Sixtus II, the pope who was martyred under Emperor Valerianus (258 CE), wears the papal tiara; Lawrence, who was deacon to the martyred Sixtus, holds a book and gridiron. It is believed that Dürer created this woodcut in honor of Sixtus Tucher, who was Provost of the Church of St. Lawrence in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1493-1503.