Jean Duvet, The Apocalypse, Chapters Four and Five, an engraving

France, AD 1555

St John being summoned to Heaven

The figures in this crowded composition are all described in chapters four and five of the last book of the Bible (the Apocalypse). The signed and dated image is hard to read because Duvet has distributed the images across the surface of his plate, not arranging them in space, as a painter might, but a manner that betrays his training as a goldsmith. He has signed his work on the miniature tablets at the bottom of the image.

Duvet lived first in Dijon and then moved north to Langres, far from established centres of printmaking. He studied the prints of Mantegna, Marcantonio, and Dürer, and adapted his metalworking skills to what he could absorb from their example. The twenty-three engravings of his Apocalypse are loosely based on the sixteen woodcuts of Dürer's great Apocalypse. However, where Dürer stressed the visionary nature of the scene by setting it high above a spacious landscape, Duvet fills his frame with the vision, leaving only a scrap of landscape in one corner. The style is claustrophobic, but there is a strong emotional charge in the earnest gestures of his figures.

Kneeling below, St John hears the voice 'like a trumpet' and sees the open door of heaven. He weeps because no one is worthy to open the book with seven seals. Then one of the twenty-four elders points out the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, who will break the seals.

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More information

Bibliography

A. Griffiths (ed.), Landmarks in print collecting (London, The British Museum Press)

F. Carey (ed.), The Apocalypse and the shape o (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

Dimensions

Height: 300.000 mm
Width: 216.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1868-8-22-1077 (Robert-Dumesnil V 17.29)

PPA57279

Slade Collection

Location

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