St. Anthony’s Toes: Following Dürer’s Line

A postcard of Dürer’s 1519 engraving of St. Anthony at its original size has been pinned to the wall near my working desk for years, during which time I have gradually summoned the courage to embark on the old-fashioned exercise of copying the print line by line at the same scale. Dürer’s work commands my respect as an engraver much as the bar set for record height commands that of a high jumper when he stands before it. By closely following the lines of the original print, I wanted to understand Dürer’s technique and how he used it to visualize his idea. That meant following his syntax of lines rather than telling my own story of his St. Anthony. In the end, of course, I had to tell my own story—one that inevitably reflects my own sense of self as an artist.

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