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Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Design for Decoration in the Town Hall of Nuremberg, 1521
Pen and brown ink with watercolor, silhouetted and mounted on another sheet, probably by the artist
Signed with the artist's monogram and dated in wreath at lower center, 1521
10 1/16 x 13 13/16 inches (256 x 351 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 257
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As he advocated in the Four Books on Human Proportion, Dürer united a variety of sources in this watercolor design for a wall in the town hall of Nuremberg. Between arched windows, roundels depict the Old Testament stories of David and Bathsheba and Samson and Delilah, as well as the classical legend of Aristotle and Phyllis. Collectively, they share a popular contemporary theme: the power of women. Surrounding the vignettes is decorative foliage inhabited by pagan satyrs and the Christian motif of the pelican. The choice of a well-known artist like Dürer for this commission denotes civic leaders' conviction that the town hall was not only a place of government but also a source of local pride. Nevertheless, this decorative scheme was never realized.

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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.