Knight, Death and the Devil; or, Reuter ("Rider")
Illustrated by Albrecht Dürer
Known to the modern world as "Knight, Death and the Devil", this masterwork was known by the artist simply as
"Reuter" (Rider). It is a truly magnificent image that contains wonderfully evocative images rendered - as may be
expected - in superb detail.
While Dürer's personal inspiration for the illustration is not known to have been recorded, a variety of descriptions
have been provided for the allegory presented by the scene. One such explanation has been provided by Panofsky
(The life and art of Albrecht Durer: Princeton University Press; 1945) thus:
'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil' (Psalm 23), could
be the caption for this engraving. The horseman is the 'knight of Christ', a phrase that Dürer
used of his contemporary Erasmus of Rotterdam, who had written a Handbook of the Christian
Soldier in 1501. Death is at the horse's feet in the form of a skull, beside the plaque with Dürer's
monogram. Death is also the ghastly corpse without nose or lips, who holds a hourglass up to
the knight as a reminder that his time on earth is limited. The knight rides on, looking neither to
the right, left, nor backwards, where the Devil, with an ingratiating grin, seems powerless while
ignored. High above this dark forest rises a safe stronghold, apparently the destination of the
A different perspective on the iconography has been provided by those who would either link Dürer with secret
societies or contend that his illustrations included deliberately hidden symbols to avoid accusations of heresy. One
such example is provided by the explanation related to Masonic and Templar iconography, summarised as
The dimensions of Dürer's "Reuter" provide a height-to-width ratio of 13:10, which may refer
to 13 October (the final suppression of the Templars included the arrest of their Grand Master
[de Molay] on 13 October 1313). 1513 is preceded by a symbol "S" - the Greek equivalent being
Sigma (∑) that has a gematrical value of 200 (the presentation of a symbolic representation of
the value 200 before the year 1513 would transform the year to 1313). The Knight may be seen
to represent the Templars (perhaps de Molay), with the French King, Philip le Bel being
represented by Death and Pope Clement V is shown as the Devil. Translation of the names of
the central characters into a simple Masonic alpha-numeric code reveals that the sum of each
numerical string equals "106" (the gematrical value of the Hebraic letter "Nun" [נ,ן] that is the
attribute of "Death" in traditional Tarot), symbolically representing the deaths of all three
protagonists in the same year, 1314 (as reputedly foretold by de Molay in his final words).
The Tarot correspondences related to the number in the year of the engraving "15" and "13"
are the "Devil" and "Death" respectively. Further, substituting the alpha-numeric values for
"15" and "13" in the signature table (presented adjacent to a skull) spells "SONAD", which,
when reversed, spells "DANOS", a Greek word meaning burnt - possibly referring to the
burning at the stake experienced by de Molay.
Regardless of the explanation behind Dürer's illustration, it is undoubtedly a true Masterpiece that is packed with
symbolism. In closing, we mention a significant symbolic value of the subtle double-crown ornamentation to the
Sallet worn by the Knight (crown ornamentation on war-ready helms were extremely rare - one of the few
recorded examples being King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt) - perhaps this detail provides a vital clue to the
identity of Dürer's famous Knight.
How to purchase our Greeting Cards and Fine Art Posters
When presented on Greeting Cards, this image is prepared as a tipped-on plate -
in hommage to the hand-crafted approach typical of prestige illustrated publications
produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Each card is hand-finished with
the image presented on White card stock with an accompanying envelope. On the
rear of each card we also present some information about Albrecht Dürer and this
wonderful illustration. We have left the interior of the cards blank so that you may
write your own personal message.
Should you wish to order a reproduction print of one or more of these images,
we have provided some options below. Each of our Fine Art Posters is prepared
with archival quality papers and inks - and also accompanied by information about
Albrecht Dürer and this wonderful illustration.
To purchase, simply click on the appropriate "Add to Cart" button and you will be
taken through to our Shopping Cart secured through PayPal. Multiple purchases will
be consolidated by that feature and shipping and handling costs to any destination
in the world are accommodated by our flat-rate fee of US$20 for every US$200
worth of purchases.
An example of our Fine Art Posters
Of course, should you wish to discuss some customised options, we welcome your contact on any matter through
In the meantime, enjoy perusing this wonderful illustration by Albrecht Dürer.
Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)
Fine Art Poster (12x18'')
Fine Art Poster (20x30'')
Some details from the illustration
|The Knight||Death||The Devil||Dürer's monogram tablet|