German Old Master Drawing, school of Albrecht Dürer, 16th century

Image of German Old Master Drawing, school of Albrecht Dürer, 16th century

German Old Master Sketch of an artist-at-work, Dürer school, 16th century

Anonymous / Circle or School of Albrecht Dürer
Nuremberg (?), Germany; 16th cent.
Leadpoint or charcoal sketch, some black wash, heightened with white.

Approximate size: 40.7 x 30.8 cm

The present sketch may be placed within the 16th century "Dürer Renaissance," following after the influence and style of Germany's most prolific and historic artist, Albrecht Dürer.

The subject depicts a middle-aged man, in three-quarter profile, engaged in his work. He wears a breathable chemise beneath a plain open-collar robe, terminating in a “V.” His casual presence is distinguished by his hair running wildly down the back-of-his-neck and along his face as he looks downward. He has a long face with wide forehead, high cheek bones, perhaps suggestive of an Eastern European descent, narrow eyes, creased lower cheeks, thin lips, bulbous chin and a degree of periorbital puffiness beneath-the-eyes. The man is perhaps a draughtsman or goldsmith, whose hands remain occupied while his face expresses a concentrated and pensive appearance as he leans inwardly over a work table.

The drawing is quite finished, lacking the changes one would observe often in a sketch or study, and may indicate a final state, presumably for a portrait.

The style of the sketch recalls Dürer's influence with its heavy outline circumnavigating the sitter and the wavy, curling character of the sitter’s hair, rendered first and often left open and delineated by vibrant strokes later worked-over with shading to add depth-and-volume.

There is a manner to the portrait that recalls a draughtsman experienced with woodblock cutting or design. The aged paper, coupled with its freely applied white highlights, casts the impression of wonderful chiaroscuro work.

Condition: The sketch has been reinforced by application to a thicker backing sheet and has browned with age; an old middle-fold; some water stains and oxidation of the white paint. Some minor creases and a few small losses, in-filled by a later hand.


Peirre Vischer (also known as Peter Vischer-Sarasin) of Basel, Switzerland.
Possibly part of his sale in Paris, 1852, April 19 - May 4. See Lugt 2115

Possibly Peter Vischer-Passavant, son of Pierre Vischer, by descent.

Dr. Michel Gaud
An active collector in Paris around 1980. Perhaps offered in his Piasa, à Paris, le 26 Mars 2010 sale? See Lugt 3482

Note: The pencil notes on the verso describe the drawing as “16th century German School,” with the question “Durer?” There is also a reference that the drawing belonged to “Comte d’Orsay” (Pierre Marie Gaspard Grimod), however, this is perhaps a misreading of Vischer’s collection stamp which looks similar to d’Orsay’s.