Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Capstone

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Art History


In 1515, Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, set forth to create a triumphal arch unlike any other that had been executed before him. He conceived of a two-dimensional project that was based on but would have an even greater impact than three-dimensional triumphal arches. To realize his vision, Maximilian commissioned a team of artists lead by Renaissance master, Albrecht Dürer. It was Dürer's work to infuse the arch with scenes of nature that made the arch a more powerful propaganda tool than that had been constructed previously. Like other rulers before him, Maximilian I wanted to construct a triumphal arch to celebrate and assert his authority. Unlike most others before him, he understood the power in invoking imagery from nature as a significant element of the arch. By capitalizing on Dürer's specialty of historic and modern depictions of nature, Maximilian used the arch to convey the idea that he had dominion over all aspects of life in the empire. The arch expressed not only the more conventional military and governmental propaganda messages of power and might, it also showed pastoral images. These scenes from nature and allegorical animal references would have resonated with a Renaissance audience that understood how Maximilian was expressing his power and attributing virtues to himself through the use of nature. The final product, The Triumphal Arch of Maximilian 1, is a two-dimensional wood-block print, considered one of three great giant prints of the Renaissance era. This paper will begin with a visual analysis of the work, then briefly review the history of triumphal arches, and finally discuss both Maximilian's and Dürer's unique contributions to the form, I will argue that Maximilian created the conditions for Dürer to make the form more impactful than it ever had been in previous iterations.