The exhibition displays drawings from Dürer at a young age, examining how he examined the figure through studies of his own body. Many of the drawings were created during Dürer’s time as a journeyman, where he travelled across Europe being exposed to new techniques and styles.
Dürer was undoubtedly a master of the Northern Renaissance with his work spanning, printmaking, drawing and painting, Dürer’s versatility and range of subject matter covered was a key influence on later European work. It is astonishing that so much of his work has survived, thanks partly due to his idiosyncratic cataloguing and documentation.
There is a strong sense of self-consciousness that transcends most of Dürer’s work through the incorporation of his own physical presence. Dürer’s approach is innovative and closely connected to nature and observation, through frequent studies of his surrounding landscape Dürer began to discover himself through his own anatomy. The concentrated exploration where Dürer attempts to master the depiction of the human figure is encapsulated in the stare of Dürer’s Self-portrait c. 1491-92.
Albrecht Dürer, Self Portrait (detail) c. 1491-92 [Pen and ink], The Courtauld Gallery, London
By using dynamic cross hatching, Dürer captures through pen and ink, poetic and fluid lines that generate a sense of calm and a close connection with own figure. Dürer’s drawings are deeply intellectual and explorative, formed from training with his contemporary masters each drawing captures energy and desire to capture not just the essence but the totality of the human figure.
The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure runs from the 17th October 2013 – 12th January 2014 at The Courtauld Gallery, London.