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

"mein Agnes"

c. 1494
Pen drawing in bistre on white paper, 156 x 98 mm
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna

When Dürer finally returned to Nuremberg in May 1494 he was 23, fully-trained and could open his own workshop. Albrecht the Elder had felt it was time for his son to marry and had chosen a wife during his long absence. On 7 July, just a few weeks after his return, Dürer was married to Agnes Frey, the daughter of the skilled and prosperous coppersmith Hans Frey and his wife Anna Rummel. It was probably just before their wedding that Dürer sketched his fiancée, then in her late teens. Capturing her pensive mood with just a few strokes of the pen, Dürer lovingly inscribed it: `My Agnes'.

Agnes, who still appears girlish, even childlike, here, is sitting at a table and supporting her head pensively on her right hand, her hair tied back. The intimacy of this everyday sketch is unusual, showing the depicted woman at a moment when she evidently thought herself to be unobserved.