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

Female Nude

Pen and ink on paper, 272 x 147 mm
Musée Bonnat, Bayonne

By the autumn of 1493 Dürer had travelled from Basel back through Colmar and reached Strasbourg. Two oil paintings survive from his stay, his first painted self-portrait (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and a devotional panel of Christ as the Man of Sorrows (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe). Among his pen and ink drawings is this female nude, dated 1493. The preliminary drawing is visible and this shows that Dürer made substantial adjustments to the work, such as on the upper thigh. This little sketch, perhaps done in a bathhouse, represents the earliest surviving life drawing in Northern art. The squat girl, her hair wrapped in a towel, is faithfully depicted, unadorned and unidealized. The woman, shown in a frontal view, is smiling in embarrassment as she modestly holds her right hand in front of her body. There are still signs of uncertainty in the proportions of individual sections such as the shoulders and neck.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.