A page out of Albrecht Duerer’s own copy of the Painters Manual


I visited several print-rooms in Europe in April this year in the hope to find evidence in support of my theory of the ‘misaligned perspective’ . (see earlier blogs: ‘Blog 1 English version’ , ‘Blog 1 Deutsche Version’ , ‘Blog 2’). Using funds from the Carrick Award, I saw original versions of the wood cut of ‘Man drawing a lute’ at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (Nürnberg, Germany) and at the Albertina (Vienna, Austria) as well as high quality ‘Ektachrome’ slide at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (München, Germany) this slide held the biggest surprise for me, but more about this slide later.

In Nürnberg I was able to see a copy of the print in question as a single leaf (proof) and several (historic) books holding references to this print. In Vienna I got presented a copy of Dürer’s Manual which was cut at the margins and included also some drawings about medieval defense installations from an other book by Duerer. It was a special moment when these original Renaissance works were brought out of the vault and presented for close inspection.

Man drawing a Lute AD 1525

None of the works I saw at either location could provide me with any further inside about my theory. The senior curator at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Dr. Rainer Schoch, made me aware that the Bayerische Staatsbiliothek in München holds a copy of Dürer’s own copy of the 1525 Manual with handwritten comments and additions, an advice which let to very exciting new insides about this Manual.

My visits to Nürnberg and Vienna were prearranged so I could see the original artworks, however the visit to München was spontaneous with only a few hours to spend allowing not enough time to retrieve Duerer’s own copy of the Manual from the air conditioned vaults but I was able to sight an ‘Ektachrome’ reproduction of the page with ‘Man drawing a lute’. As this Ektachrome shows the book opened, two pages are visible. On the right side is the print of ‘Lute’ but the left page is covered by an inserted loose leaf with a hand written text and sketch by Dürer himself.

On this loose leaf he has described the use of an additional drawing system to achieve a perspective drawing. The published print of this sketch is usually referred to as the ‘(Daughts) Man drawing a reclining woman’ or in German ‘Ein Mann zeichnet eine liegende Frau’. It was printed in the 2nd edition – the 1538 edition of this Manual which was published by his wife, Agnes Dürer, 10 years after his death, it appears in a significantly altered version. Here is a low resolution of digital reproduction of this slide. I will blog a translation of the text and some further thoughts on Dürer’s sketch and its printed version in the near future.

One page out of Dürer's own copy of the Painters Manual

One page out of Dürer

Ektachrome Signatur: 4 L.impr.c.n.mess. 119 (http://www.bsb-muenchen.de) (I purchased a digital reproduction of this Ektachrome and have permission to publish it as part of my research)

I like to thank Frau Barbara Fellner for her assistance and her skillful navigation to make the findings in Munich possible.

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