Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Saint Jerome Penitent, ca. 1497, pearwood, 23,1 x 17,4 cm, The National Gallery, London, © The National Gallery, London. Bought with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Art Fund and Mr J. Paul Getty Jr through the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, 1996.

Albrecht Dürer in the Context of Contemporaries and Colleagues

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Portrait of a Young Woman with Her Hair Worn Loose, 1497, oil on canvas, 56,3 x 43,2 cm, Photo: U. Edelmann - Städel Museum - ARTOTHEK.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Portrait of an Unknown Man, 1521 (1524?), Oakwood, 50 x 36 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, © Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

Giovanni Bellini (between 1430 and 1435-1516), Portrait of a Venetian Gentleman, ca.1500, wood, 29,7 x 20 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, © Washington, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection.

Attributed to “Master IP,” articulated Female Figure, around 1525, consists of 55 individual parts, height: 22,5 cm, Photo: Christoph Sandig, Leipzig, © GRASSI Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Nemesis or The Large Fortune, around 1501, copper engraving, 33,5 x 26 cm, Department of Prints and Drawings, Städel Museum Frankfurt/ Main, Photo: U. Edelmann – Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Sketch with six figure studies, around 1494, Gabinetto Disegnie e Stampe deglie Uffizi, Florenz, © Su concessione del Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Design for a Table Fountain, around 1500, Pen in brown ink, with watercolor in green, pink and brown, 30,1 x 19,3 cm, The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, © The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.


Städel Museum
Schaumainkai 63
+ 49 69 6050980
Frankfurt am Main
Albrecht Dürer, His Art in Context
October 23, 2013-February 2, 2014

Städel Museum presents Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) — presumably the most important artist of the German Renaissance — in a comprehensive special exhibition. The show encompasses more than 280 works, including some 200 by Dürer himself. It features the German master’s oeuvre in the full breadth and diversity of the artistic means of expression he employed. Panel and canvas paintings, drawings, prints made with various printmaking techniques, and books written and illustrated by Dürer will all be on view. Dürer’s on-going exploration of the works of German, Netherlandish and Italian artist colleagues will be one of the central themes of this Old Master exhibition in Frankfurt, which will place his works and their emergence in their historical context. To this end, works by forerunners, contemporaries and pupils such as Martin Schongauer, Hans Baldung Grien, Hans von Kulmbach, Jacopo de? Barbari, Giovanni Bellini, Joos van Cleve or Lucas van Leyden will enrich this major exhibition project. Through this form of contextualization, light will be shed not only on the artistic quality of Dürer’s oeuvre and the particular creative power it radiates, but also on the decisive contribution he made to the emergence of Northern European Renaissance art. The show will unite loans from many of the world's most prominent art collections, for example the National Gallery in London, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Paris Louvre, the British Museum in London, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Uffizi in Florence, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The exhibition is being carried out with support from the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and the Gas-Union GmbH. Further assistance is being provided by the Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung and the Museumskooperationspool der Stadt Frankfurt am Main.

“With its rich holdings of Late Medieval and Early Modern art, the Städel Museum is among the world’s outstanding collections in this area. In our exhibition programme, we have placed particular emphasis on the Old Masters over the past years, as exemplified by ?Cult Image? (2006), ?Hans Baldung Grien? (2007), ?Cranach the Elder? (2007/08), ?The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden? (2008/09) and ?Botticelli? (2009/10). I am very pleased that this series is now being continued with a comprehensive special exhibition on Albrecht Dürer”, Städel director Max Hollein commented.

“This major presentation at the Städel will differ distinctly from comparable past exhibitions by showing Dürer’s art in the context of its time. His artistic innovations, his theoretical investigations, and not least of all his skill in the marketing and staging of his oeuvre already made Dürer one of the most influential European artists during his lifetime. Our aim is to present this ‘whole’ Dürer in our exhibition”, Prof Dr Jochen Sander, the show’s curator, added.

Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg in 1471. As a painter and trained goldsmith, he proved his skill in a wide range of media: a prolific panel painter, celebrated portraitist, master of the woodcut and revolutionary of the engraving technique, he carried out elaborate commissions for merchants, noblemen and emperors, while also designing works for execution in other artistic techniques and collaborating with glass, book and wall painters, sculptors and goldsmiths. Dürer moreover studied theoretical subjects, pursued scholarly and scientific questions, investigated nature and the human being and wrote and published teaching manuals on the knowledge he thus acquired. Stays in Northern Italy and the Netherlands broadened Dürer’s artistic perspective while at the same time creating new markets for his work. His wife and his mother both helped him with the sale of his art and organized their distribution within the framework of fairs. Before long, Dürer was so successful that he founded a workshop, introduced his own “copyright”, and commissioned travelling salesmen to sell his art beyond the borders of Nuremberg. Albrecht Dürer died in 1528 at the age of fifty-seven, presumably of malaria.

Spreading out over two floors and 1,000 square metres of surface area, the extensive exhibition at the Städel Museum will be divided into altogether fourteen thematically oriented sections which will shed light on numerous facets of the life and work of Albrecht Dürer. The presentation will begin on the ground floor with the early stage of the Nuremberg artist's career and his professional and family-related ties to the goldsmith’s craft. Here, among other works, the painting of St Jerome Penitent (ca. 1497, National Gallery, London) and the Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (ca. 1490, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg) – the earliest painting known for certain to have been executed by Dürer – will be on view. The subsequent section on the artist’s patrons among the nobility and middle class will document the high renown Dürer enjoyed during his lifetime with the aid of prominent commissioned works such as Drummer and Piper (ca. 1503/05, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne) or Mary as Mother of Sorrows (ca. 1495/98, Alte Pinakothek, Munich). The Apocalypse (1498/1511, Städel Museum), a work of printmaking to be shown in its entirety in the exhibition, will then testify to the enormous technical – and thus artistic – leap Dürer’s art brought about in the development of the woodcut medium. The following sections, entitled “Dürer´s studies of human proportion” and “Dürer in Italy” will provide insight into Dürer’s conception of the ideal depiction of the human body and his exploration of the work of Italian artists and art theorists which came about partly in conjunction with his travels. An impressive document of his in-depth studies of nudes and proportions will be the Dresden Sketchbook (ca. 1507–1519 and 1523, Sächsische Landes- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden), which will be placed on loan to us following extensive restoration. A digital media station will offer visitors the unique opportunity to page virtually through the entire book. The studies on human proportions developed in the Dresden Sketchbook served as a basis for the articulated figures fashioned from pear and boxwood by the “Master IP” (after 1525, Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg); in our exhibition, those figures will be juxtaposed with Dürer’s drawings. In the following section, a series of superb paintings, among them the Portrait of Elsbeth Tucher (1499, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel) and the Portrait of a Clergyman (1516, National Gallery of Art, Washington) will provide evidence of the special importance Dürer attached to the portrait throughout his career. To this day, Dürer’s portraits continue to captivate us by virtue of their fine-painterly perfection and the striking degree to which he captured the subjects’ personalities. The last room on the lower level will be devoted to the workshop whose operation Dürer launched in the first years of the sixteenth century. Prominent works by the master’s most well-known employees, Hans Baldung Grien (ca. 1484–1545), Hans Schäufelin (ca. 1480–ca. 1540) and Hans Süss von Kulmbach (ca. 1480–ca. 1522), will be on display here.

The upper level of the exhibition annex will begin with one of the presentation’s highlights: the reunited panels of the Heller Altarpiece (ca. 1507–1509), executed by Dürer and Mathis Gothart Nithart, called Grünewald, for Jakob Heller, a wealthy Frankfurt citizen. The altarpiece was originally intended for the church of the Frankfurt Dominican monastery; today its panels are scattered among the collections of the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe and the Städel Museum. In the exhibition, they will be presented along with an extensive selection of preparatory studies by Dürer for the first time. The second upper-level room will be devoted to another especially spectacular work by Dürer – the Triumphal Arch of Emperor Maximilian I (1517/18, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig). The coloured and partially gilded image was printed on thirty-six sheets of paper and – measuring 3.5 by 3 metres – is not only largest work in the exhibition: with it, Dürer created one of the largest woodcuts of all time. The subsequent section will revolve around Dürer’s stay in the Netherlands. Now an internationally celebrated artist, Dürer was held in high esteem and received several commissions there. In Antwerp, for example, he painted the St Jerome in His Study (1521, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon). This painting immediately reaped words of praise from Netherlandish artists such as Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533) and Joos van Cleve (1485–1540) and was widely and well received. An entire room on the upper floor will be dedicated to juxtaposing the various depictions of St Jerome. The focus will then turn to Dürer’s investigation of various printmaking techniques, as evidenced in consummate form in his “master engravings” – Knight, Death and the Devil, Melencolia I (Melancholy), and St Jerome in His Study (all ca. 1514, Städel Museum). A further pièce de résistance will be Dürer’s only surviving metal printing plate (1515, Staatsbibliothek Bamberg), to be presented side by side with the work printed from it: the iron etching Christ on the Mount of Olives (1515, Sammlung Otto Schäfer II, Schweinfurt). Dürer also produced images for glass and fresco painters, illuminators, sculptors and goldsmiths to work from. The following section of the show will revolve around his activities as a designer for the neighbouring arts, and will feature, for example, a Design for a Dragon Chandelier with Reindeer Antlers (1520–1522, Städtische Wessenberg-Galerie Konstanz) and the Design for the Decoration of the Main Hall of the Nuremberg Town Hall (1521, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York). Dürer’s artistic illustrations for broadsheets which reported on exotic living creatures, special natural occurrences and the like will constitute yet another highlight. With his Rhinoceros (1515, Städel Museum), for example, – an animal known to him only from verbal descriptions – he succeeded in creating such a precise depiction that his woodcuts long dominated his contemporaries’ visual conception of the creature. Finally, the exhibition will be rounded out with a section on the universal genius’s posthumous reputation. The reproduction and dissemination of his likeness in the form of the Portrait Medal on Albrecht Dürer by Hans Schwarz (1520, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien), bears striking witness to Dürer’s claim to the status of a scholar who kept company on an equal footing with the great and powerful figures of his time.

Since a large number of paintings in the Städel Museum bear a direct connection to Dürer’s oeuvre, additional labels explaining the diverse relationships to the special exhibition on Dürer will be posted in the galleries featuring the Städel collection.

Curator of the exhibition is Prof Dr Jochen Sander, Head of the Städel Museum’s Old Masters Collection.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Portrait of a young man, 1506, Panel, 46 × 35 cm, Genova, Musei di Strada Nuova – Palazzo Rosso, Photo: Luigino Visconti, © Musei di Strada Nuova, Genova.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Woman from Nuremberg and woman from Venice, ca. 1495, Pen and dark greyish brown ink, 24,5 x 15,9 cm, Städel Museum, Frankfurt/ Main, Photo: Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Drummer and Piper, around 1503/05, Limewood, 94 x 51,2 cm,© Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, rba_c005674.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Job on the Dung Heap, ca. 1503-05, Limewood on balsa parquet, cut down on all sides, 96 x 51,5 cm, Städel Museum, Frankfurt/ Main, Photo: Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK.


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Madonna and Child at the Breast, 1503, Lime panel, 24,1 cm x 18,3 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien, © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien.

Albrecht Dürer, Venus on a Dolphin, 1503, pen and black ink, overall: 21.2 x 21.2 cm, overall (framed): 41.2 40.5 4 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Bacchanal with Silenus (After Mantegna), 1494, pen and brown ink, overall: 29.8 x 43.3 cm, overall (framed): 53.2 x 66.3 x 4.4 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Andrea Mantegna, Baccanal with Silenus, c. 1475-80, engraving, overall: 31.1 x 46 cm overall (framed): 45.9 59.5 3.6 cm. Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Covered Bridge by the Haller Gate in Nuremberg, 1496/1498, watercolor, pen and black ink, overall: 16 x 32.3 cm, overall (framed): 35.4 x 50.9 x 4.5 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Triumphal Chariot of Maximilian I, 1518, pen and brown ink and watercolors, overall: 45.5 x 250.8 cm, overall (framed): 68.4 252.5 8.8 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Tuft of Cowslips, 1526, gouache on vellum, overall: 19.3 x 16.8 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Armand Hammer Collection, 1991.217.1.

Albrecht Dürer, Emperor Maximilian I, 1518, black, ocher, red and white chalk, heightened in white chalk, overall: 39.1 31.9 cm, overall (framed): 63.6 56.4 5.7 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Christ Child as Savior: A New Year's Greeting, 1493, tempera on vellum, overall: 11.8 x 9.3 cm, overall (framed): 42.8 x 38.8 x 3.4 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Great Piece of Turf, 1503, watercolor and gouache heightened with white, mounted on cardboard, overall: 40.8 x 31.5 cm, overall (framed): 67 57.7 6.5 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Fall of Man, 1510, woodcut, overall: 12.7 9.7 cm, overall (framed): 32.1 44 3.9 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Virgin and Child with a Multitude of Animals and Plants, c. 1503, watercolor, pen and blackish brown ink; lightly squared in black chalk downward from the head of the Madonna, overall: 31.9 x 24.1 cm, overall (framed): 56.3 x 49.1 x 3.8 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, A Woman in Netherlandish Dress Seen from Behind, 1521, brush and black ink, heightened with white, background with brush and black ink, on gray-violet prepared paper, overall: 20.8 21 cm, overall (framed): 47.9 x 40 x 3.9 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Agnes Dürer as Saint Ann, 1519, brush and gray, black, and white ink on grayish prepared paper; black background applied at a later date (?), overall: 39.5 x 29.2 cm, overall (framed): 64 x 53.4 x 4.4 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Death of the Virgin, 1509/1510, pen and brown ink, overall: 30 21.9 cm, ramed: 49.8 42.8 4.5 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Babylonian Whore, 1496/1498, woodcut, overall: 38.9 28.1 cm, overall (framed): 59 45 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait at Thirteen, 1484, silverpoint on prepared paper, overall: 27.3 19.5 cm, overall (framed): 51.7 43.1 4.5 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Four Female Nudes (The Four Witches), 1497, engraving, overall: 19.2 13.6 cm, overall (framed): 41.8 35.3 3.3 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, A Pastoral Landscape with Shepherds Playing a Viola and Panpipes, 1496/1497, brush with watercolor and gouache heightened with pen and ink and gold, pasted back onto page 1 of Aldus Manutius' first edition of Theocritus' Idylls and other texts (Venice, February 1496), page size: 31 x 20.3 cm, overall size (book closed): 32.4 x 21.6 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woodner Collection 2005.1.1.


National Gallery of Art
4th and Constitution NW
Washington. D.C.
Albrecht Dürer Watercolors
and Drawings from the Albertina

March 24-June 9, 2013

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is widely considered the greatest German artist. Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria, has lent National Gallery of Art 118 works on paper by Dürer for Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina features nearly all of Dürer's finest watercolors and drawings from the collection of the Albertina, Vienna, as well as 27 of the museum's related engravings and woodcuts. The exhibition also includes 19 drawings and prints from the gallery collection.

Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina is a culmination of decades of acquisition, study, and exhibition of early German art at the Gallery. In 1999, the Gallery presented From Schongauer to Holbein, a survey exhibition of early German drawings based on the collections of Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and Kunstmuseum Basel.

This loan from the Albertina, Vienna is the only other exhibition from a single collection of similar visual impact, quality, and importance.

"The generosity of the Albertina, Vienna in lending their superb works on paper by Albrecht Dürer is overwhelming, and augmented by our own works, this exhibition allows the Gallery to present a fresh and compelling look at Dürer's practice of drawing," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

"We offer our visitors the opportunity to share in the knowledge, appreciation, and pleasure of this extraordinary artist's work."

The exhibition is organized by National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Albertina, Vienna.

Exhibition Highlights Dürer's paintings are highly prized, but his most influential works are his drawings, watercolors, engravings, and woodcuts, executed with his distinctively northern sense of refined precision and exquisite craftsmanship.

The exhibition is organized chronologically in 14 thematic groups that convey Dürer's talent as a draftsman as well as his artistic life, interests, and development.

From detailed renderings of the natural world and investigations of proportion and the human body to family members and official portraits, landscapes, religious and allegorical themes, intensely personal reflections, and even studies of drapery and designs for decorative arts, the 137 works by Dürer on view give insight into his artistic development and creative genius.

Finished compositions that functioned as independent works of art, colorful watercolors of nature and costumes, as well as quick sketches and studies for paintings and prints, woodcuts, engravings, and etchings all illustrate the full range of his subjects.

The exhibition includes many of the artist's most breathtaking works on paper, such as the watercolor The Great Piece of Turf (1503), a sublime nature study of the Renaissance; the chiaroscuro drawings An Elderly Man of Ninety-Three Years (1521) and The Praying Hands (1508), surely one of the most famous drawings in the world; and the amazingly precocious silverpoint Self-Portrait at Thirteen (1484), possibly the earliest self-portrait drawing by any artist. Such complete and finished works are balanced by quick sketches of, for example, his young bride-to-be or the Antwerp harbor.

In drawing, with the possible exception of colored chalks, Dürer used the complete range of traditional techniques to record convincing details of nature, people, and places as well as to re-create historical and mythological events and fantastic visions. In printmaking Dürer revolutionized the art of woodcut to achieve ranges of subject and scale, light, and form.

Albrecht Dürer was the reigning genius of the Renaissance in northern Europe, just as Leonardo da Vinci was for the Renaissance in Italy. Born in Nuremberg in 1471, Dürer grew up in an environment of late Gothic courtly grace and religious intensity as the city, a center of imperial politics, economics and trade, scholarship and culture, was being transformed by new influences. He traveled to Italy twice to pursue the new learning and artistic advances surging there.

The Albertina's works by Dürer have been acquired over many years, but the museum's ability to amass such a collection of world masterpieces results from primary sources that go back directly to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Dürer was his favorite artist. Rudolf II used imperial ambassadors and the machinery of state to succeed in his purchases, including acquisitions from the Imhoff family in Nuremberg, whose works were among Dürer's personal estate. In 1588 the emperor offered Willibald Imhoff's family an entire domain of Bohemia in exchange for being able to acquire these works.

Exhibition Curator and Catalogue The exhibition curator is Andrew Robison, A. W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art.

Published by the National Gallery of Art and DelMonico Books, an imprint of Prestel Publishing, the fully illustrated catalogue presents the Albertina's magnificent collection of Dürer's watercolors, drawings, and prints, as well as the Gallery's related works.

The volume features essays by Robison; Klaus Albrecht Schröder, director of the Albertina, Vienna; and Ernst Rebel, former professor at the School of Arts, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, as well as entries by scholars such as Berthold Hinz, former professor for the history of art, Kunsthochschule Kassel; Alice Hoppe-Harnoncourt, research associate, Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Matthias Mende, former chief curator of the graphic art collection and Dürer's House, Museen der Stadt Nürnberg; Christof Metzger, curator of German drawings and prints, Albertina, Vienna; Eva Michel, curator of Netherlandish drawings and prints, Albertina, Vienna; Anna Scherbaum, associate at the Kunst- und Kulturpädagogisches Zentrum der Museen in Nürnberg; Karl Schütz, former director of the Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Maria Luise Sternath, deputy director and chief curator, Albertina, Vienna; Heinz Widauer, curator of French drawings and prints, Albertina, Vienna; and Jutta Zander-Seidel, chief curator, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

The 328-page catalogue includes 205 color plates and is available in March 2013 in softcover and hardcover for purchase in the Gallery Shops. To order, please visit; call (800) 697-9350 or (202) 842-6002; fax (202) 789-3047; or e-mail

Albrecht Dürer, An Arm with a Dagger, 1508 (?), brush in gray and black, gray wash, heightened with white on green prepared paper, with several pentimenti, overall: 22.8 19.6 cm, overall (framed): 45.1 41.5 3.9 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Men's Bath, 1496/1497, woodcut, overall: 38.9 x 28.3 cm, overall (framed): 55.2 x 44.1 x 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Visitation, c. 1504, woodcut, overall: 30.1 x 21.2 cm, overall (framed): 49.3 40.5 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Saint Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness, 1496/1497, engraving, overall: 31.5 x 22.3 cm, overall (framed): 53.4 43.5 3.3 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Betrothal of the Virgin, c. 1504, woodcut, overall: 29.3 20.8 cm, overall (framed): 49.3 40.5 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, A Youthful Standard Bearer, 1518, pen and black ink, overall: 42.3 x 29.8 cm, overall (framed): 64.3 51.5 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Hans Hoffmann, A Red Squirrel, 1578, watercolor and gouache over traces of graphite on vellum, overall: 25 x 17.8 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woodner Collection, 1991.182.5.

Albrecht Dürer, An Elderly Standard Bearer, 1518, pen and black ink, overall: 42.1 28.5 cm, overall (framed): 64.5 50.2 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Head of a Young Woman, 1506, brush and gray ink, heightened with white on blue paper, overall: 28.5 x 19 cm, overall (framed): 50.8 40.7 4 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Standard Bearer: The Bohemian Trophy, 1518, pen and black ink, overall: 43.4 30.5 cm, overall (framed): 65.4 52.3 3.7 cm , Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Holy Family, 1511, woodcut, overall: 23.8 16 cm, overall (framed): 44.2 36 3.7 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer and Workshop, Christ before Pilate (Green Passion), 1504, pen and black ink, heightened with white on green prepared paper, overall: 28.7 18.6 cm, overall (framed): 50.7 39.9 3.9 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Felix Hungersperg, 1520, pen and brown ink, overall: 16 10.5 cm, overall (framed): 39.9 33.5 3.5 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Mein Agnes, 1494, pen and black ink, overall: 15.7 x 9.8 cm, overall (framed): 44.3 x 37.9 x 4.2 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Nuremberg Woman Dressed for Church, 1500, watercolor, pen and black ink, overall: 32 x 20.4 cm, overall (framed): 50.1 x 38.3 x 3.4 cm. Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer and Workshop, The Entombment (Green Passion), 1504, pen and black ink, heightened with white on green prepared paper, overall: 29.6 18.3 cm, overall (framed): 50.7 39.9 3.9 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, A Venetian Lady, 1495, pen and gray and black ink, brush and brown ink, gray wash, overall: 29 x 17.3 cm, verall (framed (double-sided)): 52.1 x 40.2 x 4.1 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Lucretia, 1508, brush and gray and black ink, gray wash, heightened with white on green prepared paper, overall: 42.3 x 22.6 cm, overall (framed): 65.4 x 47.1 x 4.1 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Triumphal Chariot of Maximilian I, 1522, woodcut, overall: 45 222.8 cm, overall (framed): 66.5 250.7 5.7 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, The Last Supper, 1523, woodcut, overall: 21.3 x 30.1 cm, overall (framed): 40.6 49.3 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Reclining Nude, 1501, brush and pen with black ink, gray wash, heightened in opaque white on green prepared paper; compass hole and construction lines in the area of the belly, overall: 17 x 22.1 cm, overall (framed): 38.1 x 42.7 x 3.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.

Albrecht Dürer, Left Wing of a Blue Roller, c. 1500 or 1512, watercolor and gouache on vellum, heightened with white, overall: 19.6 20 cm, overall (framed): 48.8 49.3 6.6 cm, Albertina, Vienna.


Albrecht Dürer, The Virgin Annunciate, 1491/1493, pen and brown ink on laid paper, overall: 16.4 x 14.3 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woodner Collection, 1993.51.1.


Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504, Engraving, second state 265 x 209 mm, Purchased as the gift of Eugene V. Thaw, S. Parker Gilbert, Rodney Berens, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, Mrs. Oscar de la Renta, Elaine Rosenberg, T. Kimball Brooker, George L. K. Frelinghuysen, and on the Ryskamp Fund, the Edwin H. Herzog Fund, and the Lois and Walter C. Baker Fund; 2006.80.

Albrecht Dürer, the Beauty of Drawing and the Practice of a Master

Albrecht Dürer, Design for Decoration of the Town Hall of Nuremberg, 1521, Pen and brown ink, with watercolor, silhouetted and mounted on another sheet, 256 x 351 mm, The Morgan Library & Museum; I, 257.

Albrecht Dürer, Design for the Pommel Plate of a Saddle, Pen and dark brown ink, 220 x 287 mm, The Morgan Library & Museum; I, 256.

Albrecht Dürer, Abduction on Horseback, 1516, Pen and brown ink, with traces of underdrawing in, black chalk; inscribed with stylus, 251 x 201 mm, Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924; I, 257a.

Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of the Artist’s Brother Endres, ca. 1518, Charcoal, background later washed with white lead, 324 x 262 mm, Gift of Mrs. Alexander Perry Morgan in memory of Alexander Perry Morgan; 1973.17.

Albrecht Dürer, Melancholia, 1514, Engraving, 240 x 186 mm, Bequest of Belle da Costa Greene; 1950.33.

Albrecht Dürer, Constructed Head of a Man in Profile, ca. 1512-13, Pen and brown ink and dark brown wash, 244 x 188 mm, Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924; I, 257b.


The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York

Clare Eddy Thaw Gallery
Defining Beauty:
Albrecht Dürer at the Morgan

May 18-September 12, 2010

"What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things . . . "

— Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), preeminent master of the German Renaissance, transformed drawing in Northern Europe.

Using his unrivaled talent as a draftsman and the force of his powerful artistic personality, Dürer tirelessly promoted drawing as a medium, creating works of exceptional beauty and remarkable technical skill.

Eight extraordinary drawings by Dürer demonstrate the variety and dynamism of his draftsmanship.

Exhibitions focused on Dürer's drawings are rare, and this marks the first time in more than 20 years that the Morgan's Dürer holdings are displayed together. Included are prints and treatises by the artist..

"Albrecht Dürer was one of the greatest, most inventive artists of all time," said William M. Griswold, director of The Morgan Library & Museum.

"His range and skill in a variety of media are extraordinary, and his pursuit of the idea of beauty singular and obsessive. To experience the Morgan's spectacular collection of Dürer drawings in the small, almost chapel-like setting of the Thaw Gallery is to come face to face with pure genius."

Among the highlights of the exhibition that demonstrate Dürer's preoccupation with beauty are his seminal engraving of 1504, Adam and Eve, along with its extant related preparatory drawing. To create the work, Dürer joined several sheets of paper, then unified the composition with brown wash to create a balance between the two figures.

His efforts to resolve the composition are evident; both figures hold the apple that led to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Ever cognizant of his authorship, Dürer added his monogram and date to the drawing. This image, perhaps more than any other, documents how the artist strove to create both beauty and harmony in depictions of the human form.

Demonstrating the persistence of Dürer's fascination with proportions is another work from about a decade later, Head of a Man in Profile. Overlaying a grid on a man's head delineated in pen and brown and red ink, Dürer used geometry to construct a precise profile.

Also on view is a 1532–34 edition of his landmark treatise, Four Studies on Human Proportion, a book in which he articulated his artistic philosophy and the centrality of proportion in his depictions of the human body.

Dürer did not limit himself exclusively to a mathematical ideal. He also turned to the natural world as a source. During his lifetime, empirical observation became more valued in northern Europe, as exemplified by the accurate topographical view of his hometown in the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493.

One of the most famous printed books of the 15th century, published by Dürer's godfather, Anton Koberger. A similar commitment to observation is evident in the rugged features and fuzzy textures of Dürer's unidealized charcoal portrait of his brother Endres. For Dürer, perfection could exist in no single individual; he appreciated humanity's variation and even its flaws.

Dürer also saw beauty in the spiritual realm. Kneeling Donor, a study for his altarpiece Feast of the Rose Garlands for the church of San Bartolomeo in Venice, reveals how deeply he was inspired by religious subjects. He adopted the technique of brush and black ink with gray wash and white heightening on blue paper during his 1505-7 stay in Venice

Also on view is one of his most famous engravings, Melancholia I. This enigmatic image of the allegorical figure of Melancholy, her head leaning upon her hand, has been seen alternatively as a statement on artistic creativity and as evidence of Dürer's interest in ancient debates over the definition of beauty.

In other instances, Dürer turned to the aesthetic tradition of Germany, Nuremberg in particular, for inspiration. Dominating his drawing Abduction on Horseback is a hairy brute resembling the Wild Man, a folk figure with a long tradition in German art.The frenetic pen lines may be explained by the fact that the drawing was made in preparation for one of Dürer's six known etchings — a new technique in northern Europe. He drew from rich metalwork in Nuremberg as well; both his father and father-in-law were renowned gold- and coppersmiths for which the city was famous. Dürer's intricate design in pen and dark brown ink for the pommel plate of a saddle shows the artist's commitment to this decorative tradition. Further documenting his inventiveness is the bright, multicolored watercolor for a wall scheme in Nuremberg town hall, a civic center and source of local pride whose decoration was important to the city.

In his pursuit of beauty, Dürer devoted careful attention to every aspect of artistic production. On view in the exhibition are a woodcut, its associated woodblock, and a letter to the patron for whom it was made. In the letter Dürer wrote, "Please let it be as it is. No one could improve it because it was done artistically and with care. Those who see it and who understand such matters will tell you so."

Defining Beauty: Albrecht Dürer at the Morgan is organized by Elizabeth A. Nogrady, Moore Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Morgan Library & Museum.

Albrecht Dürer, Folio from Four Books on Human Proportion (detail), Nuremberg: 1532/34, Gift of Mr. John P. Morgan II in memory of Mrs. Junius S. Morgan, 1981; PML 77029.2.

Albrecht Dürer, Coat of Arms of Michael Behaim, ca. 1520, Woodcut, 295 x 206 mm, The Morgan Library & Museum; 2006.81.

Albrecht Dürer, Original woodblock for Coat of Arms of Michael Behaim, Wood, 282 x 197 mm, Gift of J. P. Morgan; AZ127.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Kneeling Donor, 1506, Brush and black ink, gray wash, heightened with white gouache, with accents in pen and dark black ink, on blue paper, 323 x 198 mm, Signed with monogram and dated, at lower left, in brown ink, 1506. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 257c.


Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504, Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrections in white, 242 x 201 mm, Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 257d.