Friday, May 31, 2013

Guess the date

Guess the date of this drawing: 1494? 1694? 1894?

           Answer: 1494.

Albrecht Dürer’s drawing of his fiancée Agnes Frey shows Agnes twisted up in a knot of anxious introversion. A New York Review of Books blog comments that there had never been a drawing quite like this before, with its frank portrayal of an informal moment of unguarded emotion. She looks withdrawn and preoccupied, and the circles under her heavy-lidded eyes may even make one think she has been crying. Typically portraiture at that time was honorific and represented the sitter's exemplary virtues. Dürer instead often sought to capture the idiosyncratic and psychological characteristics of the people he portrayed. He was fascinated with the close scrutiny of dark and brooding emotion, it says.

And here's a watercolour of a hare that Dürer did in 1502.

I should have said 1902, if you had covered up the artist's monogram. Puts me in mind of a Victorian wildlife illustration.

This self portrait on the other hand does not deceive:

We can all see that it dates from about 1498. The artist flaunts himself as a style icon. His grey over suit is trimmed in black, and he sports matching cap and white gloves. His bright white undershirt is trimmed in gold and he completes the ensemble with a brown cloak tied with a black and white intertwined rope.

According to Wikipedia Dürer is conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. He wrote a work on geometry called The Four Books on Measurement, which includes the application of geometry to architecture and engineering.

1 comment:

  1. Clearly a brilliant man Pete, probably a genius, whatever that means - architecture, engineering and art, meaning he obviously crossed the art/science divide. His hair was a bit girly though wasn't it? Unlike his hare, which was quite masculine.