Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
1515. Woodcut on paper with a Single-Headed Eagle watermark (Meder 224), a good impression of the sixth state (of eight). Printed by Hendrick Hondius, The Hague, circa 1620. The Dutch text trimmed, as is common; with an inscription in French on the reverse
Image size: 8 3/8 x 11 3/4 in. (21.3 x 29.8cm)
Sheet size: 8 7/16 x 11 7/8 in. (21.4 x 30.2cm)
[Bartsch 136; Meder/Hollstein 273]
Private Collection, New Jersey.
The Rhinoceros is one of Albrecht Dürer's rarest prints. This woodcut, executed in eight states, is a visual record of an Indian rhinoceros brought to Emanuel I, King of Portugal in 1513 and known to Dürer from a sketch by the painter Valentin Ferdinand. In 1515, Emanuel I sent the rhinoceros to Pope Leo X as a gift, though the animal died in a shipwreck. While Dürer never saw the rhinoceros, he refers to it in an inscription in the edition of the print with letterpress text as being "fast, impetuous and cunning." Dürer's Rhinoceros is a highly stylized animal: its heavy skin appears like armor plating, complete with rivets and a breastplate; it has an enlarged horn, a gorget, and a smaller spiral horn on its back. Until the late 18th century, Dürer's depiction of a rhinoceros was widely regarded as being an accurate one.
Sold for $81,250 (buyer's premium included)