Dürer and Italy has engraved classics by the Nuremberg artist alongside Italian works by Dürer’s contemporaries.
The combination illustrates a surprising cultural exchange that took place through the medium of prints from 1500 to Dürer’s death. He had a fascination with Italy from an early age and visited in 1494 and stayed there between 1505 and 1507.
Dürer promoted himself as an artist, studied art and met engravers and exponents in the art of perspective, unknown in Germany. He produced two types of prints.
Cheap woodcuts, often sold as bound sets, were aimed at the popular market while his expensive astonishingly-detailed engravings appealed to artists and collectors.
Prints and engravings are easily transported and can spread an artist’s influence over large distances. Soon Dürer’s work became known to Raphael in Rome just as Dürer knew engravings by Italian artists as a young man in Germany.
Dürer and Italy features a total of 24 prints including 11 by Dürer with his well-known images The Fall of Man (Adam and Eve), The Prodigal Son and Melancholia. Wenceslas Hollar’s famous etching of Dürer, after the self-portrait in the Prado art gallery, Spain, is included.
Sandra Penketh, head of Lady Lever Art Gallery, says: “Dürer is the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance whose work has never been out of favour. These wonderful prints demonstrate how far his influence reached in his lifetime and beyond.”
Dürer’s most popular woodcuts were two series of the Passion of Christ and another of the Life of the Virgin (1511).
His engravings present figures and landscapes of unparalleled beauty that rapidly became highly fashionable, especially in Italy.
Raphael did not make prints himself but wished to publish his imagery so provided sketches to be engraved by artists such as Marcantonio.
Included in the exhibition are Marcantonio’s Judgement of Paris and Massacre of the Innocents which were both engraved in collaboration with Raphael. They provide a somewhat dry, classical contrast to Dürer’s vision, tinged by his roots in Gothic illustration.
A loan exhibition from the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.
‘Melancholia’, c. 1514, by Albrecht Dürer