About this artwork
Communion bread came in different shapes in Renaissance Europe, and this variety is particularly clear from depictions of the Last Supper, when Christ symbolically offers his body to his disciples. In this metalcut series on the life of Christ, the shape of the bread—the traditional Bretzel, or pretzel—betrays that the prints were made in Bavaria. While the handwritten text on the verso of the adjoining sheet in the booklet (once comprising nineteen metalcuts) does not mention the pretzel, it is handcolored in a warm, doughy yellow. A similar glow suffuses the head-on Sudarium at center, an unusually abstract inclusion for an image of the Passion.
The fifteen metalcuts, or “dotted prints,” that form this Passion suite constitute one of the most complete block books in existence. It is possible that the series at one time included as many as nineteen images, each exquisitely hand-colored with the biblical text inscribed on the reverse. The stars, shells, and other repeating patterns were produced by hammering metal punches, such as those used by goldsmiths and armorers, into the soft metal plates.
- Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Unknown artist
- The Pietà
- Made 1460–1465
- Metalcut in black hand colored with brush and watercolor in yellow, red-brown lake, and green, on ivory laid paper, with manuscript text in pen and brown ink on verso
- 100 × 75 mm (plate); 105 × 80 mm (sheet)
- Clarence Buckingham Collection