© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
After Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (Pieve di Cadore, Italy c. 1488 - 1576 Venice, Italy)
The Submersion of Pharaoh's Army in the Red Sea
Other Titles
Original Language Title: The Passage of the Red Sea
Work Type
c. 1514-1515
Physical Descriptions
Woodcut printed from twelve blocks on twelve sheets (joined)
sight: 118 x 215 cm (46 7/16 x 84 5/8 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Rosand & Muraro 4; Passavant IV 4
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of W. G. Russell Allen
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 2540 Renaissance , written 2015
Albrecht Dürer and the Islamic World

Even though he never traveled beyond Europe, the Nuremberg artist Albrecht Dürer began to include figures from the Islamic world in his engravings and woodcuts after visiting Venice in 1494–95. While there, he may have encountered merchants or political envoys from the Ottoman Empire. Undoubtedly he saw portrayals of Turks in the paintings and drawings of the Venetian artist Gentile Bellini, which he copied. Incorporating the figures into his genre and landscape prints, the German artist signaled their identity by their headgear, flags, and other accessories. For example, the male figure in Dürer’s Turkish Family wears a turban and carries a bow and arrows.

Figures in Ottoman garb often appear in biblical scenes as well. Dürer’s Ecce Homo — represented here by a copy of his print by Marcantonio Raimondi — includes a figure wearing the folded felt cap of the Janissaries, the elite corps of the Ottoman sultan’s bodyguards. In Dürer’s woodcut depiction of the Adoration of the Magi, a mounted figure wearing a turban is positioned behind the three kings representing Europe, Asia, and Africa. Behind the mounted Turk are other men on horseback carrying banners decorated with the crescent and star and the bifurcated sword of the Ottomans. Their inclusion implies the attendance of representatives of the Ottoman Empire at the birth of Christ. However, the presence of Ottoman figures in a biblical scene is anachronistic; the empire was not established until the 13th century.

[30.1979, G1105, G4480, M808, M10283, M12047, M22478]

Exhibition History

Grand Scale. Monumental Prints in the Age of Durer and Titian, Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, 03/19/2008 - 06/08/2008; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 09/09/2008 - 11/30/2008; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 01/31/2009 - 04/26/2009

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 03/18/2015; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/18/2015 - 09/09/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu