You can't take it with you... Hirst and Durer lead macabre Bonhams auction
Important and powerful works reflecting the transience of human existence by 16th century master Albrecht Dürer and 21st century master Damien Hirst lead the Bonhams print sale in London on July 12.

Dürer's 'The Knight, Death and the Devil,' of 1513 is one of his most celebrated and intricately conceived engravings.  It depicts a Christian knight riding resolutely through a bleak, hostile landscape menaced by the figures of death on his traditional pale horse and the devil with a pig's snout.

This very fine print is estimated at between £30,000-40,000 ($64,700).

Durer engraving Knight Death Devil
Dürer's macabre The Knight, Death and the Devil

'St Jerome in his Study', a Dürer engraving of 1514, shows the saint hard at work, the customary lion dozing pacifically in the foreground and a skull prominently displayed on the window ledge as a symbol of death's presence in the midst of life.   

Damien Hirst's screenprint, 'The Skull beneath the Skin', dates from 2005 and finds an echo in 'Studio half Skull, half face' of 2009, a colour screenprint with diamond dust.  Both pieces, estimated at £5,000-7,000 each, are strong, hard-edged, reminders of mortality.

We recently included Hirst in our list of Top Five contemporary artists at auction in recognition of his value as an alternative investment.

A final piece on the same theme, Gerhard Richter's 'Skull with Candle' of 1995, appears to adopt a softer approach.

However, the juxtaposition of the candle flame, which will inevitably burn out or be extinguished, and the lifeless eye sockets of the upturned skull make a powerful statement.  It is estimated at £2,500-3,500.

 

 

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