The sea monster by Albrecht Durer

The sea monster by Albrecht Durer

Engraving on copper “Sea Monster”. The content is mysterious, and the composition is very complicated. The mountainous shore steeply bends up. Along the water – it’s a bay or a river – the fortress walls stretch. They surround the cliff, climbing its slopes to the top. The stockyards are the fortress towers. Then the Nuremberg fortress is recognized. But this is not so important. The castle has such a reliable view, so massive – its towers are sure, so its walls are so indestructible, so firmly it dominates the shore that contemplating engraving did not doubt – such a castle somewhere actually exists.

A hot summer day… The feeling of the heat is born of a magnificent white cloud in the sky. In an incomprehensible way, black and white engraving creates a blue sky. Shaggy spruce runs along the shore to the very water. The bank has grown overgrown with reeds. Women were bathing in calm sleepy water. Now they, terribly frightened, run to the shore. The old man in a long coat with a sword hanging helplessly on his side runs to the water, raising his hands to heaven.

And on the water, cutting and foaming with her muscular chest, a huge monster – half-man-half-fish floats. The monster does not have a terrible, rather, even a kind, elderly bearded face. A tall forehead is crowned with a moose horn. With one hand the monster holds the shell of a huge tortoise like a shield, the other squeezes the hand of a young naked woman who lies on his torso.

In this scene, too, many mysterious. A hot day is fraught with a heavy pre-warning alarm. People on the shore are filled with horror and despair. Apparently, the woman is kidnapped. But the face and especially the pose of this woman are strangely unperturbed. It does not break away, does not try to free itself, does not take away the hand that the monster has embraced. Her other hand lies calmly on her hip. His mouth is slightly open, but not for screaming, but for amazement. She does not turn her head to those who were scared by her abduction. Her gaze is detached from afar… Allegory? Probably. Perhaps, on the topic of what unexpected dangers a clear sunny day hides and that the earth’s solid and stone walls do not save from them.

But not yet unraveling or not understanding the meaning of the engraving, we see the main thing – it is beautiful! In it everything – from a sailboat with tightly inflated sails in the background to a vibrating cane at the nearest – forms an integral unity. And if it is true to find the point and consider the engraving from the removal, which the master expected, it suddenly comes to life, you begin to see that the monster, cutting the water, swims forward, and the cliff with the castle and the fortress wall are rapidly moving back. The monster and woman are slightly shifted to the right in relation to the vertical axis of the engraving, and the cliff with the lock is slightly to the left. This creates a sense of movement. But when the viewer looks at the engraving, he does not guess about her secrets, he sees a miracle: the motionless moves.

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