Durer's first extremely elaborate engraving is interpreted here as a farewell to the equestrian type rather than its oddly anonymous celebration. The work is placed in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Ravenna (1512), in which the effects of gunpowder were registered with shock, and in the context of changing norms of political savvy, exemplified in the dreary career of the knightly Emperor Maximilian and the bloody career of the feared Cesare Borgia. The historically outmoded Knight with his ghoulish companions is seen as doomed rather than as inspiring or comforting. Rather than imperviousness to harm, he signifies the moribund character of chivalry in the new world of gunpowder and power politics. The work's role as print is also examined, both its place in Dürer's oeuvre, as the precursor of his etching, the Landscape with a Cannon, and its saleability to unsuspecting buyers as seeming to belong to a traditional type. The iconographic vagueness of the image is taken as a sign of its subtle conceptualization, picked up on by the Master of 1515 in his odd engraving of an equestrian. (pp. 511–522)
Art and Art History
The Society for Renaissance Studies
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
"Durer's Rider," Renaissance Studies, XIX, 2005, pp. 511-22.
© 2005 The Society for Renaissance Studies, Blackwell Publishing Ltd