The Small Passion is one of the most famous works of Albrecht Dürer. Featuring woodcuts made as early as 1509, it was eventually published in a book by the artist himself in 1511.
An Incredible Masterpiece of Woodcuts
The work consists of 36 woodcut plates, the title page “Vir dolorum,” and the table “Christ on the Mount of Olives,” which was already repudiated by Dürer, but still included for documentation. The average size of the woodcuts is 128 x 96 mm, printed on sheets of 21 x 15 cm.
The original volume was completed with the comment to the tables of Philip Chelidonio. A few years after, Dürer sold the whole volume to the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi in Bologna, with whom Dürer then came into conflict, accusing him of plagiarism. Raimondi did use the tables to duplicate the woodcuts in etching. He also as copied other works – particularly the leaves of the Life of the Virgin – to sell them in the Italian and European market.
The Popularity of the Work
Such was the popularity of Dürer's work in the first decades of the 16th century that many artists used it as inspiration for their own works, like Romanino by Pontormo. It also inspired many German and Flemish illuminators like as Nicolaus Glockendon and Simon Bening.
The original drawings reappeared in Venice. On the initiative of the cartographer and engraver Donato Rasciotti, the work was reprinted by the publisher Venetian Daniele Bisuccio. It included a dedication to the Archduke of Austria, with a new title and with the new commentary in Italian by Maurizio Moro.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Albrecht Dürer - Small xilographic Passion - Nuremberg, 1511": Albrecht Dürer - La Piccola Passione xilografica - Norimberga 1511 facsimile edition, published by Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte, 2011