Woodblock for Samson Rending the Lion

Artist: Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)

Date: ca. 1497–98

Medium: Pear wood

Dimensions: Overall: 15 3/8 x 11 in. (39.1 x 27.9 cm)

Classification: Blocks

Credit Line: Gift of Junius Spencer Morgan, 1919

Accession Number: 19.73.255


Albrecht Dürer's remarkable woodcuts were created by printing blocks such as this one, typically carved from a fruit wood, onto a sheet of paper. Whether Dürer cut his own woodblocks or drew the design on the block and commissioned a highly skilled woodcutter to do the actual carving remains an open question. The unparalleled subtlety with which the image was chiseled into the surface has been used as evidence both for and against Dürer's participation. The intricacies involved in shaping the patterns of curving and tapering lines in order to create pictorial effects never before achieved in woodcut must certainly have required Dürer's close supervision if not his hand on the knife. The block, still in use more than a century after the artist's death, was recut in places to strengthen the image, which had begun to wear away. Several of the artist's woodblocks have survived; this is one of two Dürer blocks in the Metropolitan Museum's collection.