St. Eustace, c. 1501
engraving on laid paper
36.1 x 26.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 14805)
With his virtuoso handling of the burin in this majestic engraving, Dürer was able to render details and greys of such subtlety as to give the scene an incomparable atmospheric quality. Without relinquishing his desire to make an attentive study of nature, Dürer chose as his subject the conversion of a Roman general, Placidus, who saw a vision of the Crucifix between the antlers of a stag that he was hunting. Shown kneeling, St. Eustace, the patron saint of hunters, could just as well be St. Hubert, conventionally depicted as a knight, but for the fact that St. Eustace traditionally wore the garb of a Roman soldier.