WAR AND SUFFERING

Throughout his career Dürer explored the themes of suffering and violence, depicting Christ’s torment and the horrors of war in narratives ranging from the classical, biblical, and contemporary eras, occasionally fusing various time periods in a single image. Regardless of what the scene depicts, its anguish is as potent today as it was in the sixteenth century. In the 1500s, mercenaries and knights were not simply popular social types but real-life presences during the Protestant Reformation, when religious wars raged across Europe. Just as the media of the twenty-first century—whether films, video games, or comic books—reflect the pervasiveness of violence in our culture, Dürer’s images mirrored his own society’s fascination with human torment.

Albrecht Dürer, Hercules, c. 1496. © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA

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