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Twenty-four Plaques after Albrecht Dürer's Small Passion Woodcut Series
  • Plaques
  • Twenty-four Plaques after Albrecht Dürer's Small Passion Woodcut Series
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
    Susse Frères (active between: c. 1530 - 1550), (case)
  • Limoges, France
  • Date: c. 1570 - c. 1625
  • Medium: Plaques: Enamel, flesh tones, red details, gold, copper, enamelled and gilded with enlevage. Frame: Wood, gilt metal, silver and velvet. Case: pine, leather, watered silk and gold, tooled gilded
  • Object size: 54.8 x 66.3 cm, inner compartment
  • Height: 9.9 cm, each plaque
  • Width: 7.8 cm, each plaque
  • Inv: C596
  • Location: Sixteenth Century Gallery
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Further Reading
  • The anonymous workshop that produced these plaques in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth century specialised in the production of very finely painted, ornately gilded small-scale plaques almost exclusively after Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Small Passion’ series of thirty-seven woodcuts, published in 1511. A distinctive characteristic of the workshop's production is the lack of wear to the gilding, which is unusual. The plaques appear to constitute a distinctive French manifestation of the ‘Dürer Renaissance’ associated with the period approximately between 1570 and 1630.

    The twenty-four plaques in the Wallace Collection illustrate the story of man’s fall and his salvation through Christ’s sacrifice, primarily through scenes depicting Christ’s life and Passion. While several of the scenes vary in their details from Dürer’s series, two incorporate features from prints by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Martin Schongauer respectively: ‘The Fall of Man’ and ‘The Flagellation’. The plaques were assembled in their current frame in the nineteenth century and some of them are incorrectly sequenced. Sets of plaques after Dürer’s ‘Small Passion’ need not include the complete series. However, it is unlikely that the twenty-four plaques in the Wallace Collection constitute a complete set because if they were correctly sequenced they would end on a sombre note with the ‘Deposition’, omitting the more optimistic scenes associated with Christ’s Resurrection and subsequent events that complete Dürer’s cycle.

    The plaques were probably incorporated into an altarpiece or retable for a monastery, church, or private chapel, or for use as a portable aid to devotion. Most such assemblages were subsequently dispersed.