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Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina

March 24 – June 9, 2013
East Building, Mezzanine and Upper Level, Northwest and West Bridge

Albrecht Dürer, The Triumphal Chariot of Maximilian I, 1518, pen and brown ink and watercolors, overall: 45.5 × 250.8 cm (17 15/16 × 98 3/4 in.), overall (framed): 68.4 × 252.5 × 8.8 cm (26 15/16 × 99 7/16 × 3 7/16 in.), Albertina, Vienna

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) has long been considered the greatest German artist, uniquely combining the status held in Italian art by Michelangelo in the sixteenth century, by Raphael in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and by Leonardo da Vinci in our own day.

While Dürer’s paintings were prized, his most influential works were his drawings, watercolors, engravings, and woodcuts. They were executed with his distinctively northern sense of refined precision and exquisite craftsmanship. The finest collection of Dürer’s drawings and watercolors is that of the Albertina in Vienna, Austria. One of the largest in the world, it is distinguished by many of the artist’s most stunning masterpieces: watercolors such as The Great Piece of Turf, a sublime nature study of the Renaissance; chiaroscuro drawings such as The Praying Hands, surely the most famous drawing in the world; and the amazingly precocious silverpoint Self-Portrait at Thirteen, perhaps the earliest self-portrait drawing by any artist.

The Albertina’s works by Dürer have been acquired over many years, but the museum’s ability to amass such a collection of masterpieces results from primary sources that go directly back to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Dürer was his favorite artist, and the emperor spared no expense in searching for Dürer’s art. He used imperial ambassadors and the machinery of state to succeed in his purchases, among them extraordinary acquisitions from the Imhoff family in Nuremberg, whose works included Dürer’s personal estate.

This groundbreaking exhibition is a culmination of decades of acquisition, study, and exhibitions of early German art at the National Gallery of Art. It presents 91—including most—of the superb Dürer watercolors and drawings from the Albertina and 27 of the museum’s best related engravings and woodcuts. It also includes 19 closely related drawings and prints from the Gallery’s own collection.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

Sponsor: The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. Additional funding is kindly provided in memory of Melvin R. Seiden. Additional support is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Attendance: 124,194

Catalog: Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina, edited by Andrew Robison and Klaus Albrecht Schröder. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2013.

Brochure: Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina  March 24-June 9, 2013 by Margaret Doyle. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2013.

Dürer, Albrecht
German, 1471 - 1528

View Related Collection Information: Prints and Drawings