Knight, Death and the Devil
is considered Durer's master engraving, completed after two years in 1514. The provocative image of the steadfast knight, looking straight ahead despite urgings from the Devil and intimidation from Death, strikes one immediately. Since its creation, there have been a number of wide ranging opinions on its message.
I read someone thought the fox brush on the protagonist's lance made him a "sanctimonious hypocrite" instead of Defender of the Faith many others imagined. I must admit, I'm not sure how that conclusion was arrived since I could only find positive definitions and conclusions associated with fox brush, including it being a sign of chivalry.
I must say I was a little unnerved to also read that German art historian Wilhelm Waetzold in 1937 called the "Rider" a picture of victory and said heroic souls like Nietzsche and Adolph Hitler loved the engraving. I think it looks heroic as well and serves as a reminder to stay true to the task at hand no matter the distractions (of course it always helps to have a good dog with the same mentality). The picture reminds us of those that came before we, and what they did and endured to make this a better world.
One reviewer of the picture suggested it reflects the writings of Erasmus of Rotterdam Enchiridion Militis Christiani (The Manual of the Christian Solider) in which the castle is the citadel of God, the saving goal. The rider keeps the powerful horse in check, reflecting restraint of instincts and passions and self-mastery for facing Death with composure and turning his back on the Devil. Narcissist
Albrecht Durer lived from 1471 to 1528 and is considered the genius of the German Renaissance. He was a mathematician, painter, master engraver and goldsmith. It's no wonder even the most famous Germans in history wanted to claim him as one of their own. To this day, a lock of Durer's hair is on display at Vienna Academy. He was considered the first international rock star of the art world. His travels took him to Italy twice, the Netherlands and all parts of Germany in his quest for perfection.