Opening the Fifth and Sixth Seals

From Apocalipsis cum Figuris (Apocalypse)

Illustrated by Albrecht Dürer



Dürer's Opening the Fifth and Sixth Seals depicts one element of the ecstatic vision experienced by St John.


Mrs Charles W Heaton (The History of the Life of Albrecht Durer of Nurnberg with a Translation of His Letters and

Journal and Some Accounts of His Work: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, London; 1881), in an early comprehensive

biographical work, provides the following description of this wonderful illustration:


The souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which

they held, lie beneath the altar, helpless and naked, until they are clothed in the white

robes of imputed righteousness by the angels of God. Such is the scene in the region

of heaven, depicted in the upper portion of the picture; but on the earth, which

occupies the lower part, a far different scene is taking place, for punishment has

already overtaken the sinful race of man, and they find no place to flee from the

wrath of the Lamb, though they call upon mountains and rocks to hide them from

the face of Him that sitteth on the throne.

The sun and the moon, two faces of sorrowful aspect, are set in the middle space

between heaven and earth; and from the same region the stars fall down flaming

and hissing, a mighty rain of heavenly bodies.

On the earth Dürer represents all classes of men as overtaken by the same calamities.

Not the highest can escape. In the foreground to the right we see an emperor who

raises despairing eyes to heaven; behind him squats a pope with his triple crown still

on his head; a cardinal, less fortunate, has had his scarlet hat torn off by the storm,

and his bare head is exposed. Several other ecclesiastics are also amongst the doomed

sinners, a significant circumstance when we consider that this cut was executed twenty

years before the Reformation. But judgment falls on lay as well as clergy, on men and

women alike; neither young nor old may be spared. 'For the great day of his wrath

is come; and who shall be able to stand?'



Our Greeting Cards and Reproduction Prints


Should you wish to order a Reproduction Print or an individual Greeting Card of this image, we have provided

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In the meantime, enjoy perusing this glorious illustration by Albrecht Dürer.



The illustration



Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Price: US$5.00


Reproduction on 8x12" sheet

Code: AD OFSS (8x12)
Price: US$30.00


  Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

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




Some details from the illustration


Angels clothing the righteous The Sun The Moon All classes of humans overtaken by calamity