albrecht durer

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Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528)

Painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Illustrations from The Complete Woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer. Edited by Dr. Willi Kurth. New York: Arden Book Co., n.d. 

The night of June 7, 1525 Albrecht Durer had an apocalyptic dream of a great flood destroying the world. Shaken by the experience, he painted this scene the following morning. Durer’s distress over this vision was not unusual considering the time. The early years of the Reformation brought violence, rebellion, and intense religious anxiety. In 1525 Germany was in the midst of a violent peasant revolt, and there was mounting fear among some that a flood would soon end the world.  Below is a translation of the text.

In 1525, during the night between Wednesday and Thursday after Whitsuntide, I had this vision in my sleep, and saw how many great waters fell from heaven. The first struck the ground about four miles away from me with such a terrible force, enormous noise and splashing that it drowned the entire countryside. I was so greatly shocked at this that I awoke before the cloudburst. And the ensuing downpour was huge. Some of the waters fell some distance away and some close by. And they came from such a height that they seemed to fall at an equally slow pace. But the very first water that hit the ground so suddenly had fallen at such velocity, and was accompanied by wind and roaring so frightening, that when I awoke my whole body trembled and I could not recover for a long time. When I arose in the morning, I painted the above as I had seen it. May the Lord turn all things to the best.