Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso)

Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)
Pen and brown ink
10 15/16 x 7 15/16 in. (27.8 x 20.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this extraordinary series of studies, Albrecht Durer has captured his own image and that of several pillows on the sheet’s front and back with incomparable brilliance, achieving at a tender age a calligraphic precision and expressiveness of line of unexcelled clarity. The self-portrait - of which the head was drawn using a mirror and the hand directly from the model - occupies an important place in the artist’s series of self-characterizations. It is generally agreed that it relates and perhaps was preparatory to a painted self-portrait of the same year, 1493, now in the Louvre in Paris. The painting probably served as an engagement or courting portrait for the young suitor.
As an example of the young draftsman’s awakening sense of himself as an artist, and as a signal of his growing awareness of the interplay of subject and viewer - the sitter and creator as one - this drawing stands as one of the most important early visual documents of the modern era. On the sheet’s verso, he has penned the changing forms of this single object in three vertical pairs. Much has been made of the human facial features which seem to emerge from the lumps and folds of the drapery.
Inscription: On the recto at the center top: the monogram Ad was added by another hand in thicker, more reddish brown ink.

Marking: Inscribed in brown ink on the verso at the center top: 1493; at the lower left, a collector's stamp about 8mm in diameter, in reddish brown: MUZ LUBOM Sorrounding the letters IO (or the number 10?)

Watermark: three fleurs-de-lis in a shield, with a crown and flower and a suspended letter t (similar to Piccard XIII (III), no. 1734 [Sitten 1494] or no. 1735 [Siegen 1494]; chain lines 46-47 mm apart.
Prince Heinrich (Henryk) Lubomirski (1777-1850), Przeworsk; moved to the "Lubomirski Museum," Ossolinski Nationalinstitut, Lviv, after 1868; confiscated by the German occupation forces on 2 July 1941 and removed to Germany; United States Army, 1945-48; Prince Georg Lubomirski; [Schaeffer Galleries, New York]. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1952.
Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings Before 1700 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., New York and New Haven, 2012, pp. 12-16, no. 6.

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