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.
Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)
Code: AD AP SGC
Reproduction on 8x12" sheet
Code: AD AP (8x12)
Reproduction on 12x18" sheet
Code: AD AP (12x18)
Some details from the illustration
|Pluto||Proserpine||The Unicorn||Dürer's monogram|