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Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Portrait of the Artist's Brother Endres, ca. 1518
Charcoal on paper, background later washed with white lead
Inscribed at lower right with the artist's monogram in black chalk by another hand
12 3/4 x 10 5/16 inches (324 x 262 mm)
Gift of Mrs. Alexander Perry Morgan in memory of Alexander Perry Morgan; 1973.17
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Dürer mined theoretical and mathematical sources for his work, but he also relied on empirical study of the world around him. To his friend and Reformation leader Philipp Melanchthon, he wrote, "As I grew older, I realized that it was much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art." This drawing depicts the artist's brother Endres, a goldsmith who probably executed Dürer's designs for metalwork. Using charcoal alone, Dürer achieved a range of textures—from the dense pile of the fur collar to the wisps of curly hair. With his prominent jaw and close-set eyes, Endres bears little resemblance to the idealized clasical proportions. For Dürer, observations taken from nature, in all its variety, had a place in art.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.