Four horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Durer

Four horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Durer

Engraving “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – an illustration to the 6th chapter of the book “Revelation” of John the Theologian:

All four horsemen are the personification of famous biblical images. The first – the archer is the Winner. The horseman, who carried the sword above his head, symbolizes the War. Their third companion, the Famine, holds a balance in his hands. The fourth rider is Death.

Riders emerge from thick darkness, which is coming to the ground. That the horsemen are sent by the sky, show the arrows of the rays. A pointed cap, a wide-brimmed gown, a curved bow at the first. The fourth horseman, “whose name is death,” is a half-naked old man with a mouth open in shouting and burning eyes. He sits on a bony horse. After the last horseman, a monster with open jaws crawls along the ground. Horses are approaching inevitably.

The horses of three horsemen with horseshoes: their canter sounds like a metallic clatter. The fourth horse left the artist uncivil. He has a bony sound. The rider-death released the rope reins. He has neither saddles nor stirrups on his horse. The rider does not control the frenzied eyes with their furiously rounded eyes. And this horse, falling on broken hooves, inevitably comes upon people… Under the hooves of the horse fall horrified burgher, peasant, town-dweller. They do not try to resist.

The terrible cavalcade barely fits into the sheet – this creates the feeling that it sweeps past our eyes. The horsemen move, followed by darkness, devouring the light, which is still visible on the horizon. Darkness could be portrayed as a solid black spot. But then it will remain motionless. Durer creates darkness, closely bringing together almost straight, but fluctuating black lines. They give birth not just to darkness, but to darkness moving.

Rapid horizontal shading serves as a background for horses: darkness overtakes them, dragging along with them. The arrow on the bow, swing of the sword suggest the direction of the jump. Horses in different ways stretch their necks, stretch the reins, spin with their ears. Each pair of legs is given in a different position. There is an image of the jump, so expressive that it seems – can hear the tramping of horses. You feel, the artist himself was sitting in the saddle, holding the reins, spurred his horse, heard a whistle blowing in the ears.

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