The Abduction of Proserpine

Illustrated by Albrecht Dürer



This wonderfully evocative image was prepared by Dürer as one of six experimental etchings made on iron plates.

While he did not continue using that medium, the prints produced from those etchings exhibit interesting characteristics

of line arising from the texture of the metal (being less uniform when compared to copper).


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:


It is called by Bartsh, Le Ravissement d'une jeuné Femme, and by others Pluto carrying

off Proserpine. It is a wild, weird conception, and produces a most uncomfortable,

shuddering impression on the beholder.


As noted by Strauss (The Complete Engravings, Etching and Drypoints of Albrecht Durer: Dover Publications, New York;

1972), The Abduction of Proserpine is considered to be the most dramatic and inventive of Dürer's experimental etchings.

Strauss provides his own description of the illustration, thus:


By eliminating accessory figures and by arranging the terrain so as to suggest a leap

into the void, by diffusing the scenery with a lurid, flickering light, and by transforming

the horse of the preparatory drawing into a fabulous unicorn evocative of the ideas

of night, death and destruction, Dürer invested a violent but perfectly natural scene

with an infernal character unparalleled in representations of the subject except for

Rembrandt's early picture in Berlin.


The head of the unicorn was sketched separately by Dürer. Pluto here appears as the

leader of the wild hunt, riding a unicorn. Wild men, according to ancient belief, were

the only creatures capable of overcoming the unicorn's ferocity. The idea probably

derives from an illustration in the Nuremberg Chronicle (folio CLXXXIX) relating to

an event during the reign of Emperor Henry III (1017-1056). According to a report a

wicked English sorceress, the Berkeley Witch, was hauled off by the Devil on a hideous

horse - her fearful and terrifying cry was heard for miles around.




How to purchase our Greeting Cards and large format reproductions


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.


Each of our large format reproductions are prepared with archival quality materials and processes to ensure many years

of enjoyment. In addition, our reproductions are accompanied by explanatory material relating to Albrecht Dürer and

this wonderful illustration.


To purchase, simply click on the appropriate "Add to Cart" button appearing above and you'll 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.


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


Reproduction on 8x12" sheet

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


  Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

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




Some details from the illustration


Pluto Proserpine The Unicorn Dürer's monogram