Published: December 4, 2007
The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced it has acquired “The Engraved Passion,” a series of engravings by Albrecht Dürer (1471‱528), the northern Germany Renaissance painter and engraver. The series, dating from 1507 to 1513, is considered one of the most important and earliest series of engravings on laid paper. These engravings mark the beginning of printmaking history in Europe, and influenced many later printmakers, including Rembrandt van Rijn.
The series describes The Passion of Christ, beginning with “The Man of Sorrows Standing by the Column,” 1509, and tracing the story of the Passion through 16 works.
Dürer was the first artist to elevate printmaking to the level of fine art, and he quickly established a reputation across Europe while still in his twenties. Working with both woodcuts and engravings, he attained a level of detail that is virtually unsurpassed. Dürer is recognized as one of the greatest printmakers in the history of the western print. These engravings are among the earliest dated works in GRAM’s collection of prints and drawings, which spans the Sixteenth through the Twentieth centuries.
The prints will be housed in the newly opened Jansma Family Works on Paper Study and Reading Room. “Dürer’s prints are at the core of all serious print collections, so it is a fitting distinction to open the Jansma Room with ‘The Engraved Passion series,'” said Celeste Adams, GRAM museum director.
The fineness of the engraved lines in this series enabled Dürer to suggest an almost spiritual light. The same fineness also made possible a greater exploration of facial expression. A key innovation introduced in the series is the gray middle tone, which provides a greater variety of color between black and white than in previous editions. By combining the fine detail and color tones, Dürer establishes a deliberate experience for the viewer with each image prioritizing the whole narrative from scene to scene.
“The Engraved Passion” series acquired by the GRAM was assembled more than a century ago by Paul Davidsohn, a German collector.
The Grand Rapids Art Museum is at 101 Monroe Center. For information, 616-831-1000 or www.gramonline.org .
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