Top Part of the Peasant Monument
Wood cut print
H.14.9 X W.7.0cm
From Underseysung Der Messung
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Germany
In the fifteenth century graphic art was a powerful medium with which to promote the Reformation. Since then it has continued to be a vehicle of social criticism. Dürer, a humanist artist, excelled both in etching and woodcut.
This print, created by Dürer as a design for a monument commemorating the Peasants’ War of 1524-5, remains an enigma. An estimated 100,000 died in the widespread German revolt, which focussed in varying degrees on bread, justice and religious conflict. The father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, of whom Dürer was a known devotee, sided with the princes in their slaughter of the peasants. Yet this print, with its subject and imagery, indicate Dürer breaking from Luther.
The need to create a monument shows a decided sympathy with the peasants, who are represented in the uppermost image of a peasant stabbed in his back.
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