"Dürer as A Boy" at the German National Museum
A nineteenth-century sculpture believed to have vanished during the Second World War was rediscovered on the grounds of the American Academy in Berlin. The discovery of the marble sculpture's provenance was made by art historian Jeffrey Chipps Smith, of the University of Texas at Austin, when he was the Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the Academy in the spring of 2010. Chipp's discovery led to Beer's sculpture being sent away for extensive restoration and to its being the starkly lit welcoming work in the entry hall of the exhibition "Der frühe Dürer" (The Early Dürer) at the German National Museum, in Nuremberg, which will be on view from May 23 to September 2, 2012.
The work, Albrecht Dürer als Knabe (Albrecht Dürer as a Boy), was created by the sculptor Friedrich Salomon Beer (1846-1912) in the early 1870s. It became part of the Nationalgalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin in 1878. Shortly thereafter, it was incorporated into the Old National Gallery's permanent exhibition. In 1940 the work was given to the National Socialist Ministry of Finance, Walter Funk, who had the work transported to his then-residence at Am Sandwerder 17-19, in Wannsee, the current location of the American Academy in Berlin, where the work has remained since. Rediscovery of the work solved a longstanding mystery as to the work's location, celebrated by scholars of the Northern Rennaissance and of Dürer specifically. Many thought the work had been destroyed during the war.
The Dürer show in Nuremberg resolves many other mysteries as it brings together over 200 works from some of the world's most renowned museums, now seen together for the first time. The exhibition traces the fascinating arc of Dürer's life (1471-1528). Recreating the young artist’s networks of neighborhood and family, artisanry and humanism in his hometown of Nuremberg, the exhibition features a number of his masterpieces, as well as a peek behind the scenes of current archival research in the “Dürer Lab." The four-part exhibition invites visitors into a range of perspectives: from Dürer’s biography to the question of his role as the archetype for the modern artist, from the role of book publishing on his work, and the beginnings of modernity's fascination with creative individuals. Dürer crafted his role and reputation as artist, entrepreneur, and theoretician, and he benefited from an expansive network of acquaintances, friends, and reformers. His artworks, of course, still overwhelm with their technical virtuosity, all the while filled with narrative and dramatic staging, which contributed to the artist's unprecedented popularity.
Image courtesy German National Museum