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Christ stands under a stone archway bending down to grab a pleading man by the wrist.

Behind Christ outside the archway on left, stand two nude male and female figures (Adam, with long beard, and Eve). A lizard-like beast clings to the arch on right, its face partially obscured and holding a spear aimed down. As Christ reaches down, he’s balanced by a gold staff in left hand with cross-shaped finial and waving flag. A wound in Christ’s right hand is evident. The arch door fell to lower left, a dragon-like beast hisses behind it. Flames and two human faces look up at Christ in pleading gestures from the bottom.

Gallery Text

These prints from Dürer’s Engraved Passion series were hand colored in 1588 by the Nuremburg colorist Georg Mack the Elder, who added his initials in gold. Today, seven sheets from the series with matching illuminated mounts and manuscript texts on their versos are known, which suggests that all sixteen prints from the series were painted and bound together as a personal prayer book. Mack applied pigments and gold and silver highlights that correspond to Dürer’s printed lines. Together the prints and their decorated mounts evoke the look and feel of an illuminated manuscript. These innovative, hybrid objects thus function as a bridge between earlier handwork traditions of the Middle Ages and the letterpress books that revolutionized the dissemination of texts in Renaissance Europe.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Albrecht Dürer, German (Nuremberg 1471 - 1528 Nuremberg)
Georg Mack the Elder, German (active in Nuremberg c. 1556-1601)
Christ in Limbo
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: The Engraved Passion
Work Type
1512/hand-colored circa 1588
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Engraving, hand-colored with watercolor, opaque watercolor, and gold on cream antique laid paper, adhered to a decorated vellum mount; verso of mount: decorated border, with German manuscript text in brown ink and gold
print: 11.7 x 7.4 cm (4 5/8 x 2 15/16 in.)
parchment sheet: 17.5 x 12.9 cm (6 7/8 x 5 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: upper center: dated on the plate, below the stone arch, 1512
    signed on plate with artist's initials, lower right, AD
    signed in gold lower right center, under Christ's elbow, GM
  • inscription: on stone block in lower right corner, engraved artist's monogram printed in black ink: AD
  • inscription: centered just below arch, engraved date printed in black ink: 1512
  • inscription: above Adam's clasped hands, initials in gold paint: GM


Recorded Ownership History
[Helmut H. Rumbler Kunsthandlung, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, by 1989] to; Samuel Josefowitz Collection, London, 1989, sold; [Christie's, New York, "Albrecht Dürer Masterpieces from a Private Collection," 29 January 2013, lot 41] to; [C.G. Boerner LLC, New York] to; Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Museum, 2013.

State, Edition, Standard Reference Number

Standard Reference Number
Bartsch, Meder, Hollstein 16; Schoch-Mende-Scherbaum 58

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Acquisition Fund for Prints
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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The engraving was hand-colored by Georg Mack the Elder circa 1588 (initialed "GM" in gold). The recto border of the vellum mount is decorated with a scroll of flowers, four birds and a tortoise. The verso has a German manuscript text in brown ink and gold relating to the Entombment of Christ, and the border is decorated with a scroll of red lilies, a caterpillar, a butterfly, other insects and a duck.

Publication History

  • Katalog 25. Catalogue of dealer Helmut H. Rumbler, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, auct. cat. (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1989), no. 11
  • Susan Dackerman, Painted Prints: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD, 2002), pp. 223-225, no. 46, reproduced

Exhibition History

  • Painted Prints: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 10/06/2002 - 01/05/2003; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 02/14/2003 - 05/18/2003
  • 32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 03/18/2015

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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