Albrecht Dürer

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Albrecht Dürer
Design for Decoration of the Town Hall of Nuremberg
Pen and brown ink, with watercolor, on paper, silhouetted and mounted on another sheet of paper probably by the artist.
10 1/16 x 13 13/16 inches (256 x 351 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
I, 257

In 1521, upon his return from the Netherlands, Dürer was commissioned to design a program for the decoration of the town hall in his native Nuremberg. The mural paintings were carried out by other artists, perhaps including Georg Pencz, but by the 1630s the decoration was repainted, and any remaining traces were lost when the town hall was destroyed in 1944. The roundels above the windows show David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, and Aristotle and Phyllis, all scenes of powerful women. It is an unexpected scheme for a town hall, but was likely meant to convey a salutary warning for the town's leaders that even the most powerful and insightful of men might be laid low if they fail to maintain a sense of propriety.


Signed with the artist's monogram and dated in wreath at lower center, "1521".
Watermark: Shield, fragment.

Sir Peter Lely (Lugt 2092); unidentified collector, formerly identified as Pierre Crozat (his initial 'C" at lower right; see Lugt S. 474); Sir John Charles Robinson (Lugt 1433); his sale, London, Christie's, 12-14 May 1902, lot 108, "Design for Painted Decoration, for the façade of a house at Brussels, made in 1521, during Dürer's visit to Flanders. A Reference to the execution of this drawing is to be found in Dürer's dieary-in colour-signed, and dated 1521...Exhibited at the Royal Academy, 'Old Masters', 1895, Exhibited at The Guildhall, 1895"; Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
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Associated names: 

Lely, Peter, Sir, 1618-1680, former owner.
Crozat, M. (Pierre), 1661-1740, former owner.
Robinson, John Charles, Sir, 1824-1913, former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.


Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, I, 257, repr.
Denison, Cara D., and Helen B. Mules, with the assistance of Jane V. Shoaf. European Drawings, 1375-1825. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981, no. 35, repr.

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