Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist ★★★★★ The National Gallery | Nov 20, 2021 - Feb 27, 2022


Dürer's journeys were so much more than tourism. This exhibition which traces his three trips abroad offers a fascinating look at how his art develops in response to his travels and to contemporary artists whom he met. Too often known simply for his engravings and his woodcuts, the Dürer we see here produced masterpieces in a variety of media including pen and ink, charcoal, and oil. We also see his variety of subject matter, from the pious religious pictures to the sensitive and thoughtful portraits. The artist was the consummate technician and his studies of animals, human anatomy and garments are quite stunning. The exhibition also exposes the wonderfully human side of Dürer, giving us access to his frank and informative journals and letters. There are so many threads that might be followed through this quite brilliantly curated show, but the one that struck us was the artist's treatment of the oft depicted Saint Jerome. The first woodcut we have by Dürer is from 1492. It depicts the saint and confirms the artist's burgeoning talent and developing skills. And then in 1514, we have an iconic engraving of the same subject stunning in its use of light and creation of space. The saint is in his study and his halo emphasises his beatitude. Coming under the influence of Luther and, perhaps, anticipating his own demise, Dürer gives us a very different look at the saint in 1521. Here is a man struggling to express his faith and to come to terms with his mortality. This Jerome, more human than saint, is beautifully and movingly portrayed and is a fitting note to close on. Take your time to peruse this exhibition. Your journey will be rewarded for every moment spent here.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Albrecht Dürer, Saint Jerome, 1521 © Instituto Portugues de Museus, Minstero da Cultura, Lisbon

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