The Crucifixion und weitere Werke von Daniel Hopfer

The Crucifixion, c. 1510
23 x 16 cm (h x w)
etching on paper
not for sale
[Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Art Center Print Club, 1988.4]

(Gift Print, 2011)

Etching came out of the armorer’s craft where it was used to etch decorative designs on steel armor. Daniel Hopfer was one of the earliest artists to use etching to create printing plates. Dated stylistically to around 1510, Hopfer’s Crucifixion is not a narrative representation but rather a mystical interpretation of the death of Jesus.

The etching abounds with sharp, cutting, and tearing objects. Jesus is attached to the cross with huge nails that pierce his hands and feet. He wears the Crown of Thorns that was mockingly placed on his head during his Passion. A devil with claws lurks on the cross. Angels weep. The most striking figure in the print is the Virgin, shown pierced by the enormous sword that represents her sorrow at her son’s death. Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin was widespread in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries.
With this important gift, Print Club helped to fill a hole in the Permanent Collection’s holdings of early prints.

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