Christ in Limbo (The Harrowing of Hell) from "The Small Woodcut Passion"

Accession Number

Christ in Limbo (The Harrowing of Hell) from "The Small Woodcut Passion"

Albrecht Dürer

Object Creation Date
circa 1509-1511

Medium & Support
woodcut print on laid paper

5 in x 3 3/4 in (12.7 cm x 9.53 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Prof. Eugene and Mrs. Marie Glysson

Label copy
Albrecht Dürer
Germany, 1471–1528
Christ in Limbo [The Harrowing of Hell], from the Small Woodcut Passion
circa 1508–10
Gift of Professor Eugene and
Mrs. Marie Glysson, 2011/2.55
(Gallery Rotations Fall 2012)

Subject matter
After his death and before the Resurrection, Christ descended into Hell to bring out righteous people who had lived before him, including Adam and Eve, Moses, and other Old Testament prophets. Here Christ holds a standard in his left hand that bears a dovetail flag with a cross, while he brings out of hell one of these patriarchs with his right hand. Other redeemed figures look on as the man at the lower right is released from Hell.  The image was meant to inspire religious devotion and evoke the concept of atonement.

Physical Description
A group of figures at the left stand in a vaulted space under a cross. They look towards the lower right of the composition where a man holding a standard with a cross on top is bending forward and offering his hand to an old bearded man in an arched doorway. Above the doorway are several fantastical figures with beaked or animal heads and arms with claws. Signed in the block "AD", lower right, recto.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
relief print

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Bible stories
New Testament
Passion (of Christ)
Passion cycles
crosses (motifs)
devotional images (religious works)
hell (doctrinal concept)
people in religion
underworld (doctrinal concept)
woodcuts (prints)

12 Related Resources

Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Death in the European Middle Ages
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Human-Animal Metamorphosis
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Human Sacrifice
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Medieval European Monsters and Devils
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Northern Renaissance and Reformation-Era Art
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
The Divine Comedy
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Heavens, Hells, and Afterlives
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved