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The Harrowing of HellEnlarge image

The Harrowing of Hell, 1512

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
engraving on laid paper
11.7 x 7.4 cm
Purchased 1949
National Gallery of Canada (no. 5612)

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.

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