Babylonian harlot by Albrecht Durer

Babylonian harlot by Albrecht Durer

Engraving “Babylonian harlot” – an illustration to the 17th chapter of the book “Revelation” of John the Theologian:

Under the harlot in the Apocalypse was meant the Imperial Rome. This was his foretelling of imminent death. But the cruelty, luxury, and debauchery of pagan Rome were far away. In Dürer’s time, the violent denunciation of the Apocalypse was associated with the papal Rome. The seven heads of the beast were understood not only as the seven deadly sins, and the seven hills on which Rome was built.

On the bank of the stream, which signifies the peoples of the world, the city is already dying in the flames. A terrible army is already galloping in the sky, and people on the other shore, blind to these signs, come out to meet the harlot.

About the “great harlot” in the “Apocalypse” is said with anger and disgust: “With her the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the land drank the wine of her fornication”. But its appearance is deceptively beautiful. “She is clothed… in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls…”

On the engraving of Durer the harlot is seductive. There is no hint that her beautiful appearance hides abomination and evil. She has a young, charming face, rounded arms and shoulders, silky hair. And in its beauty there is nothing sinister. She wears an open dress, expensive bracelets adorn tender hands, a hoop with precious stones holds her hair together.

“A cup with the abominations of fornication”, which she raises above her head, is a miracle of jewelry art. So it seems that the black and white engraving conveys the gold of the ornaments and the scarlet color of the garment.

Yes, of course, the earthly world is full of abominations. Yes, of course, he is condemned to death. But why is the sinful world so temptingly beautiful? Beautiful young woman in festive attire. The girl in the crowd is beautiful, her head bent to the young man’s shoulder. A strong man is beautiful, proudly and independently propped up by his hand. The ship is beautiful with its inflated sails. The distant horizon is beautiful. The entire earthly world is beautiful. The artist agrees with the verdict of heaven, but can not say goodbye to the doomed world without regret, not glorifying its beauty.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5)