11.8 cm x 7.4 cm (4 5/8 in. x 2 15/16 in.)
(Nuremberg, Germany, 1471 - 1528, Nuremberg, Germany)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
The cult of Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers, was particularly strong between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. According to popular tradition, Christopher was a man of giant stature who assisted Christ across a river, and in doing so, felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Night scenes such as this lent themselves well to the restricted tonal scale of Dürer’s late engraving style. Long parallel lines define the water, hilly landscape and sky surrounding the saint. Rather than altering the density of these lines to create gradations of tone, Dürer distinguishes these passages through their directional orientation. Once searchingly descriptive, the fall of light is now mystical and expressive.