The Four Horsemen

Apocalypse, Death and Disaster

Free entry

NGV International

Robert Raynor Gallery Prints & Drawings, Level 3

31 Aug 12 – 28 Jan 13

The Four Horsemen presents images of death and disaster in prints, illuminated manuscripts, illustrated books and paintings from the fifteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. This was a period of great turmoil in Europe, during which bitter religious conflict, war, famine and pestilence generated deep anxiety. Dramatic events and natural disasters were increasingly read as divine punishments or warnings that the Last Days were imminent.

This exhibition explores the ways in which artists gave expression to the beliefs and fears that plagued individuals and whole societies. The 120 works on display, including Albrecht Dürer’s extraordinary woodcuts illustrating the Apocalypse, prints by Hans Holbein, Jacques de Gheyn and Jacques Callot, illustrate witches, monsters, demons and the Devil. Death, personified as a skeleton, featured prominently in the visual culture of the period, and is represented in all guises – dancing, riding on horseback, and stalking unsuspecting men and women as they go about their daily lives.

The works in this exhibition are drawn from the Prints & Drawings collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and include key loans from the State Library of Victoria and the Special Collections of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

Exhibition curated by Dr Petra Kayser, Curator, Prints & Drawings, NGV; Cathy Leahy, Senior Curator, Prints & Drawings, NGV; Dr Jennifer Spinks, Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne; and Professor Charles Zika, Professorial Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence, History of Emotions, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.

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