Der Ritter

Der Ritter:


A German woodcut from the 1540’s. It has puzzled historians since it was discovered at Halstberg castle in 1883. The woodcut bears the distinct style of a known woodcut artist from that area, Hans Freckenberg. Although he was known for his realistic depiction of human anatomy in his works, something that was unusual for woodcuts in the 16th century, this picture differs radically from the rest of Freckenberg's works. The character to the right bears little resemblance to a human being, with a skeletal physique and long limbs at odd angles. Many theories have been discussed as to what Freckenberg wanted to symbolize with this character; some say it is a personification of the religious wars that raged in Europe at the time, others say it is a personification of the mysterious plague that has been believed to be the reason for the mysterious abandonment of the Halstberg castle and the nearby village in 1543.


Another woodcut dated to around the 1540’s. It is the work of Hans Freckenberg who disappeared in 1543 in Halstedt. The entity to the right is very similar to the odd humanoid from Freckenberg's earlier woodcut; ‘DER RITTER’, since both share many of the same features such as unnatural height and long limbs. One thing to point out is that much work went into the entity to the right, at the cost of the depiction of the people to the left and middle in the woodcut which is very crude, something that is quite unusual for Freckenberg who was best known for his lifelike depictions of humans in his earlier works. The reason for this sudden change of priorities in Freckenberg’s style is still a topic of hot debate.

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