Jean Duvet: The artist in the guise of st. John the evangelist (1546-1555)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

An engraving by the French artist Jean Duvet (1485- after 1562). This print is the front piece of the 'Apocalypse series', a set of 23 engravings dedicated to the visions of saint John the evangelist as described in the book of Revelation of the New Testament. On this piece the artist depicts himself as saint John. The saint is sitting and rests his head on his hand while pointing to his completed labors, the Book of the Apocalypse. Besides the book is a tablet with the text "Jean Duvet Goldsmith of Langres aged 70 made these histories in 1555". Behind the saint are an angel and devil - the harbingers of death. The three ladies in the boat are the three fates Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Clotho would spun the thread of life, Lachesis collects the thread of life while Atropos cuts the thread of life. On the right is a swan with an arrow in its beak. The swan approaches the saint/ artist and has broken the chain of life. According to legend a swan would sing most sweetly before death - apparently Duvet regarded this series as his swansong. The text next to the swan reads: "The Fates are pressing, already sight fails, the mind remains victorious, and the great work is completed". Engraving from 1546-1555.