Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528) Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam Engraving, 1526, a fine Meder a impression, printing with great clarity, on laid paper, with watermark Coat of Arms with letter L and pendant letter b (M.314), trimmed inside the image at the upper and right edges, otherwise on or just inside the platemark, pale brown ink '94' at upper edge, some pale staining and other minor defects  Sheet 242 x 183mm. (unframed)

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Lot 3
Albrecht Dürer
(German, 1471-1528)
Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

Sold for £ 15,000 (US$ 18,981) inc. premium
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528)
Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (Bartsch 107)
Engraving, 1526, a fine Meder a impression, printing with great clarity, on laid paper, with watermark Coat of Arms with letter L and pendant letter b (M.314), trimmed inside the image at the upper and right edges, otherwise on or just inside the platemark, pale brown ink '94' at upper edge, some pale staining and other minor defects

Sheet 242 x 183mm. (unframed)

Footnotes

  • The majority of Dürer's printed portraits were of friends and colleagues, including important figures in politics, religion and the arts. Some were private commissions whilst others were produced for public view, as with this portrait.
    Erasmus Desiderius (1466-1536) was a Catholic priest, scholar and one of the most significant Humanists of the Renaissance. He wrote with wisdom and wit on secular and theological subjects, advocating simple Christian values and condemning corruption in the church and his views were extremely influential during the Counter Reformation.
    Durer met Erasmus on several occasions and mutual esteem led to Erasmus sitting for the artist. Erasmus is presented in scholarly attitude at a desk surrounded by letters and books, emphasizing his intellectual endeavours. The open book probably represents the Adagia, his collection of Greek and Latin proverbs with associated essays. The vase of lily of the valley is perhaps an allusion to his purity of mind. The tablet in the upper left corner has Latin and Greek inscriptions which translate as "Portrait of Erasmus von Rotterdam, drawn by Albrecht Durer after life. A better picture is represented through his writings". Thus, Durer promotes his own skill as portraitist, whilst praising his subject for his intellect and wisdom.
    It is recorded that Erasmus did not think the likeness was quite accurate but was happy for it to be disseminated, being aware of the power of the printed image. It was Dürer's final engraved portrait and it is a testament to his immense skill that it is regarded as one the finest depictions of scholarly application and humanist learning.
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