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Woodcut is oldest work in College collection
(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)—Moravian College has acquired a print by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), which will be hung in a room dedicated to the late James J. Heller, dean of the College from 1961 to 1991.
Dean Heller, who died in 1999, was a historian who loved Dürer and whose area of scholarship was the Book of Revelation from the New Testament. The print, “The Woman of Babylon Seated Upon a Beast With Seven Heads” (Revelation 17:5 ff.), is particularly meaningful for the Heller Room, says Diane Radycki, assistant professor of art history and director of the College’s Payne Gallery.
Radycki took several of her students to the 13th annual New York Print Fair, held November 6-9, and they found this print by happenstance. Its price was within the College’s budget because of a microscopic flaw in the top left-hand corner of the border. The print had been trimmed to the borderline and remargined, after which the borderline had been retraced in places. Radycki said the trimming, which can be seen under a 10-power lens but not with the naked eye, “affected by five figures the price we paid.” Another Dürer print in mint condition went for $60,000, she said.
In the great era of printmaking, which directly followed the invention of the printing press, artists would retire their plates after a specific number of prints had been run. Wood block, which Dürer used, compressed quickly under the pressure of the press. Radycki said Dürer and other artists would deface their plates when they were retired so that no forger could run off more “Dürer” prints without the artist’s imprimatur.
The print, measuring 39.2 by 27.6 centimeters, dating from 1496-98, and crowded with fantastical figures in exquisite detail, will be hung for the dedication of the Heller Room over the Christmas holidays. The room will be in Monocacy Hall on the Main Street campus of the College, which also houses the Office of Academic Affairs, the Registrar, and the Offices of International Studies and Institutional Diversity/Multicultural Affairs.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.