St Eustace, Albrecht Dürer
Engraving, roughly 14 x 10 inches (35 x 26 cm).
In this tour-de-force engraving — created at the dawn of the 16th century — Dürer uses the story of St Eustace’s conversion, on seeing a stag with a crucifix, to show us mountains, streams, bridges, swans, a wooded landscape, individual trees, rocks, weapons, saddlery, the stag, a magnificent horse and several amazing hounds.
He has devoted as much attention to the wealth of detail in the background (note the tiny rider on the path above the horse’s head) as he has on the wonderfully textural forms of the man and foreground animals.
Dürer’s engraved line has much of the loose freedom of etching or pen drawing — directional hatching giving life to foliage and fur, and depth and solidity to wood and stone.