The Lamentation Albrecht Durer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Lamentation by Albrecht Durer is a wonderfully detailed woodcut portraying mourners grieving over Christ's body following the crucifixion. Durer’s skill with woodcuts is unsurpassed and The Lamentation was one of the works which formed part of his Large Passion series. Measuring 39.4cm by 28.3cm the details included within this frame are stunningly intricate, with the grief of Christ’s followers clearly displayed.

The Lamentation was produced around 1498-99 and is monogrammed by the artist, with his AD set in the lower center of the work. Much of Albrecht Durer's work had a theological basis. In The Lamentation there are two distinct parts to the woodcut. In the background, tucked away in the upper left corner, is the distant scene where the crucifixion took place. In the foreground is Christ on the ground surrounded by his followers mourning his death. The bodies and clothing are all tightly packed together, creating a sense of togetherness, which combine with the gestures to portray a true feeling of loss and grief. St John is seen supporting Christ’s shoulders while the Virgin Mary looks on.

Born in Nuremberg in 1471, Albrecht Durer would create over 300 woodcuts, all blessed with his distinctive style. His influences included the great Italian artists Bellini, Michaelangelo, Raphael and Da Vinci. Some of Durer’s woodcuts like The Lamentation have a close resemblance in subject matter to paintings by Da Vinci. Unlike many artists who featured theological or historical themes in their work, Durer opted to create in a chronological order, creating whole series of woodcuts. Yet Durer's skill and technique would come to be highly admired and provide an inspiration to other famed artists, including Raphael and Titian. Further admirers of Durer, including Agostino Venezino, would copy his style, but many of his contemporaries chose to work on a smaller scale rather than try and match Durer’s acknowledged quality of composition.

Albrecht Durer was also a highly accomplished painter. Besides his woodcut The Lamentation Durer also created the same scene in an oil on canvas painting entitled the Lamentation of Christ. Yet it was his woodcuts which elevated Albrecht Durer with the vivid imagery he was able to create using this form. The Lamentation is a wonderful example of the artist’s skill in expressing the story and the emotion in his woodcuts and printing style. While looking at The Lamentation you can see and feel the anguish of the women around Christ following his death on the cross. In a tightly arranged image Albrecht Durer manages to convey a powerful scene full of theological significance.