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Estimate: $ 40,000 - $ 60,000
ALBRECHT DÜRER St. Anthony Reading.
Engraving, 1519. 101x143 mm; 4x5 3/4 inches. A very good, well-inked Meder a impression, before the scratches to the left of the cross, with all the fine details distinct , with strong contrasts and no sign of wear. Narrow to thread margins outside the border line.
Dürer's engraving of St. Anthony, dating from the height of his career, shows the saint hunched over and reading on the outskirts of a fortified city (identified by art historian Tietze as combining elements of Trent, Innsbruck and Nuremberg, though recognized by Dürer scholar Thausing as adopted from a drawing titled Pvpila Avgvsta that Dürer had created some 20 years earlier). This is in stark contrast to other contemporaneous Renaissance images of St. Anthony more commonly depicting the saint tormented by demons, enduring Satan's temptation.
Dürer must have been particularly proud of this engraving, as he gave it as a gift--along with impressions of his more famous St. Jerome--to several prominent figures on at least six occasions during his 1520-21 trip to the Low Countries. In his diary entry for September 3, 1529, from Antwerp, he wrote, "I gave Wilhelm Hauenhut, equerry of Duke Frederick Palatine, an engraved 'St. Jerome' and the two new half-sheets: The Virgin and 'Anthoni'."
Scholars from Panofsky onward have remarked on the "modern" aspect of the composition, in which the huddled form of St. Anthony echoes that of the walled city behind him. "The scenery almost dominates the composition. It is here a 'cubistic' phenomenon, exclusively composed of such clear-cut stereometric solids as prisms, cubes, pyramids, and cylinders which bring to mind a cluster of crystals," (Panofsky, 1943, volume I, p. 201). In this context, one cannot help but to recall Cézanne's pre-cubistic landscape renderings of Mont Sainte-Victoire, which in turn so profoundly influenced Picasso and Braque. Bartsch 58; Meder 51.