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Created in 1515 Dürer’s woodcut shaped public perceptions of the creature for more than two centuries. It’s a pre-eminent example of art besting reality
Albrecht Dürer had a showman’s instincts for killer subject matter. When history’s greatest print-maker decided to create an image of the rhinoceros that had visited Lisbon in 1515, it became one of the most influential animal pictures ever.
Perhaps anticipating high demand, Dürer rendered the animal not as an engraving, but a cheaper woodcut, which meant it could be quickly and easily reproduced.
Are those shoulders and flanks or plates of armour? Dürer had never seen his battleship of an animal in the flesh. His woodcut is derived from a written description and sketch by an unknown artist. It combines his passion for science with his gift for the awesome and fantastic.
It’s a pre-eminent example of art besting reality. In Europe, Dürer’s rhino was taken to be the real deal well into the 18th century, when actual rhinos toured the continent and dispelled the illusion. Prior to that it inspired work as diverse as illustrations in naturalist books, the Duke of Florence’s emblem, and a relief sculpture on the doors of Pisa cathedral.
One of our pocket squares from the 'Artworks Collection'.
Limited edition: only 30 pieces.