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The Sea Monster (Der Meerwunder)

This print reflects Renaissance artists’ fascination with ancient mythological themes of abducted young women by sea monsters. Although the reference in Dürer’s print has been suggested as the Abduction of Amymone, Glaucus and Scylla, Nessus and Deianira, the Rape of Theolinda, Perimele and Achelous, an Adriatic folk tale, and even a contemporary “eye-witness” account, the real interest isn’t in the narrative details, but in legitimizing the inclusion of a female nude.

Created shortly after the artist’s first trip to Italy, the engraving reflects Dürer’s growing interest in classical models. Rather than appearing frightened, the abductee reclines like the effigy of a noble woman atop a Roman sarcophagus.

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471–1528
The Sea Monster (Der Meerwunder)
ca. 1498
Engraving on paper
Image/sheet: 9 13/16 x 7 5/8 in. (24.9 x 19.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, William H. Conroy Memorial, 72.86.1