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..and I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6.8)
The Four Horsemen is arguably the most powerful, complex and textural of all of Dürer's compositions. It is rendering St. John's vision after four of the seals have been opened. One can hear the clattering hooves, the weapons being drawn, the screams and whistling winds; the dynamic shading and purity of form develop a remarkable and technical masterpiece. The tale tells of four horsemen, representing war, plague, death and famine: from left to right, Death on his pale horse, Famine with his scales, War carrying a sword, and Plague with his bow and crown. The Mouth of Hell opens below in the bottom left, ready to devour its victims. The Apocalypse highlights the artistic genius of Albrecht Dürer, as he perfects the art of printmaking with this striking and elaborate composition.