barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

St John devouring the Book 

Nuremberg, 1498

Woodcut

Paper: 388 x 282 mm; mount: 556 x 405 mm

 

This rather grotesque and ludicrous scene showing St John the Apostle trying to swallow a book given to him by an angle is another ecstatic vision experienced by St John in the Apocalypse series. St John’s apocalyptic Book of Revelation was taken by many in Dürer’s day to foretell that the world would end in 1500. Pictorial representations of these of these types of visions have always challenged artists but here Dürer has successfully transferred is complex narrative into an intelligible image. 

Purchased 1956 (No. 56.2)

 

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