Journal of Social and Political


ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

Published: 08 July 2019

Albrecht Dürer’s Large Passion: Art, History, and Theology

James W. Ellis

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

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Pages: 467-488

Keywords: Albrecht Dürer, Christian art, Large Passion, Nuremberg, Woodcut Print


This essay analyzes a series of woodcuts collectively entitled the Large Passion (of Christ), which the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer created between 1496 and 1511. The Passion illustrates the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. The essay explores various artistic, religious, and philosophical contexts that affected Dürer’s imagery. The artist’s identification as an Augustinian Catholic, his interest in Italian humanism, and the influence of Venetian Renaissance art played crucial roles in the iconography and style of Dürer’s woodcut prints. The devotional known as the Way of the Cross, or Stations of the Cross, also impacted his subject matter. The artist used his Large Passion cycle to educate a wide spectrum of art collectors about Christian doctrine. The essay concludes by briefly examining each Large Passion image, using relevant Bible passages and Christian theology to help explain some of the messages Dürer’s prints conveyed.


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