DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

Portrait of the Artist's Mother

Charcoal drawing on paper, 421 x 303 mm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Two months before his mother's death, Dürer recorded her features in this famous drawing. The extreme naturalism of the portrait is a reference to the hard life the depicted woman had endured, for she had suffered from various illnesses and had given birth to 18 children, only three of which survived. While in the Middle Ages ugliness was equated solely with evil or death, here its function is mainly as a private record.