Erasmus of Rotterdam, Engraving

Albrecht Dürer depicted the humanist scholar standing in his book-filled study and writing a letter. Although the inscription asserts that the likeness was “done from life,” the two men did not meet for an in-person sitting. Instead, Dürer based the portrayal on a drawing he had made during his meeting with Erasmus years earlier and on Quentin Metsys’s medal, while the composition evokes Holbein’s earlier portraits of the scholar writing at his desk. Ultimately, Erasmus did not care for Dürer’s representation and complained about it to friends.

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1526
Inscribed on the wall panel behind Erasmus, in Latin and Greek: The likeness of Erasmus of Rotterdam, done from life by Albrecht Dürer. His writings present a better portrait / 1526 / AD
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Rosenwald Collection; 1943.3.3554

Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington