On one of my first days as the new curator of the David Winton Bell Gallery, it was a wonderful serendipity to be hanging a print from one of the earliest printed books “The Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb” by Albrecht Dürer. As part of our fall lobby exhibition “Selections from the Permanent Collection,” the woodcut is is one of fifteen which comprised “The Apocalypse”, a book published in 1498, two years before the dawning of a new century. Ripe with anxieties of impending times to come, Dürer’s images convey a tense forboding in 15th and 16th century life as much as they probably induced it – they were some of the first widely circulated representations of the end of days.
This woodcut depicts Revelation 13:
(1) Then I saw a beast come up from the sea with ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy… (11) And then I saw another beast coming out of the ground, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. (13) And he prompted great portents, even that fire pour down from the sky to the earth for all men to see. (14) And I looked, and beheld a white cloud, and sitting upon the cloud one who was like the Son of Man, wearing upon his head a crown of gold, and in his hands a sharp sickle. (17) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he is also having a sharp sickle.
Here is an introductory reading of the image of Dürer’s “The Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb” by the Clark Art Institute. More information from their recent exhibition “The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer” can be found here: http://www.clarkart.edu/exhibitions/durer/content/exhibition.cfm