Albrecht Durer was the greatest and most innovative printmaker of the Renaissance. A native of Nuremberg, Germany, he had established an international reputation by the beginning of the sixteenth century with the publication of the woodcut series, the Apocalypse. In Durer's hands the woodcut came to rival the technique of engraving with its subtle modeling and intricate detail, and he was able to achieve even greater refinement in his engravings. These three engravings belong to the series of fourteen that make up the Engraved Passion. Unlike Durer's two woodcut versions of Christ's Passion, these engravings were not accompanied by devotional text. This, together with the complex detail of the prints, suggests that the series was intended for art collectors interested in aesthetic contemplation as much as in religious meaning. The significance of each scene is only fully revealed in studying the image for an extended period of time.
It was this narrative sophistication, combined with his skillful manipulation of light and shadow, that made Durer's engravings highly desirable to connoisseurs and widely copied by his contemporaries and successors.