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

Portrait of a Young Girl

Oil on panel tranferred from parchment, 30 x 20 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

This small painting was in the collection of the Imhoff family of Nuremberg, and cited in their inventory from 1573-74 until 1628. In 1633, it was handed over, with the title Portrait of a Young Girl, with other works by Dürer, to Abraham Bloemart, an artist and merchant from Amsterdam. In 1899, the portrait reappears in London, and the firm P. and D. Colnaghi donated it to the Berlin art gallery.

The delicate girl is portrayed with soft, curly blond hair, slightly dreamy her eyes, one somewhat lower than the other, a gentle, melancholic gaze; and well-defined, slightly parted lips. The red beret, worn sideways, with a little slit to the side, with a long red ruby and black pearl pendant, gives her a slightly cheeky air.

The square green border of the red bodice sets off the upper part of her body. All these details put together have led to various interpretations. In addition to the fact that the "girl," when sold by the Imhoffs, was transformed into a "boy," Panofsky (1955) attributes an androgynous nature to her that could reveal the possible homosexual tendencies of the artist. A teasing letter of 1507 from the canonical Lorenz Behaim of Bamberg and the fact that the portrait does not seem to have been ordered would support this hypothesis. It has also been debated whether the painting was executed in Venice or after Dürer's return to Nuremberg. Considering the clothing to be typically German, there is no doubt as to its provenance.