Albrecht Dürer

The Harrowing of Hell

1512
This print depicts the legend of Christ’s descent into Hell after his death to liberate the souls of biblical figures who had died before him. Also known as Descent into Limbo, the subject recalls the mythological tale of Orpheus retrieving the soul of his beloved Eurydice from Hades. In Dürer’s print, Adam, now old and bearded, stands with Eve by the stone arch that supported the Gates of Hell, which have been dashed off their hinges by Christ and now lie upon the demons beneath. Above the arch, Cerberus, the hound that guards the gates of the Underworld, is represented under the guise of a reptilian monster.
Title
The Harrowing of Hell
Date
1512
Medium
Print
Materials
engraving on laid paper
Dimensions
11.7 x 7.4 cm
Nationality
German
Credit line
Purchased 1949
Accession number
5612