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

knight's journey.


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.



The illustration



Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Price: US$5.00


Fine Art Poster (12x18'')

Code: AD KDD (12x18)
Price: US$60.00


Fine Art Poster (20x30'')

Code: AD KDD (20x30)
Price: US$200.00




Some details from the illustration


The Knight Death The Devil Dürer's monogram tablet