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

Pond in the Woods

c. 1496
Watercolour and gouache on paper, 262 x 374 mm
British Museum, London

Dating from the same period as House by a Pond, this powerfully coloured watercolour depicts pine trees around a pond or lake, probably in the sandy heathland near Nuremberg. Although the tufts of grass in the foreground are rendered with painstaking detail, other parts of the picture have been left unfinished, particularly the sky and the greenery of the trees on the left. The water seems to stretch out far into the distance, changing colour from deep blue to a browny colour which reflects the evening sun. The powerful atmosphere is a vision of primeval nature.

A sketch, hidden for centuries, was recently discovered on the reverse of this work. It had been stuck into an album of drawings in 1637, which in 1753 was presented by Sir Hans Sloane to the newly-established British Museum. It was only in 1970 that the watercolour was removed from the album and the sketch was found on the reverse. Although Dürer seems to have abandoned this very rough sketch at an early stage, it appears to depict a similar evening sky to the one in the final watercolour.