Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Standing Male Nude Holding a Bow ("Poynter Apollo")

Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)
Pen and brown and black ink
8 5/8 x 5 11/16 in. (21.9 x 14.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. William H. Osborn, 1963
Accession Number:
Not on view
As his artistic career advanced and his exposure to Italian art grew, Albrecht Dürer became increasingly preoccupied with the study and representation of ideal human proportion. The Poynter Apollo, named for one of the several collectors who have owned the work over the centuries, is one of four studies by Dürer of the male nude based on classical prototypes and the canon of Vitruvius, the ancient Roman architect whose treatises were reexamined and greatly appreciated during the Renaissance. The drawing also reflects Dürer's experience of and admiration for antique sculpture–in particular, the Apollo Belvedere, which had been recently discovered and was considered the perfect example of male beauty until the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was known to Dürer through drawings and was a source of inspiration in his search for the perfect anatomy. This study, which shows Apollo holding a bow and a globe, or orb–two of the god's many attributes–was executed in the first years of the sixteenth century, during a period in between Dürer's first and second trips to Italy. It was prepared in two distinct stages, as can be seen from both the color of the inks and the nature of the lines. The light-brown ink contours may have been traced from the figure of the sun god in the artist's painting of Apollo and Diana, now in London's British Museum. The hair and modeling lines may have then been added freehand, providing the artist with an exercise in alternative ways of rendering the same subject. Apollo's pose was closely followed by Dürer in his depiction of Adam in the 1504 engraving Adam and Eve.
Signature: At lower center, monogrammed "AD" [D underneath A] in pen and gray ink

Marking: At lower left, the collector's mark (partly effaced) of Edward John Poynter (Lugt 874)
Sir Edward John Poynter (British, born France); his sale, Sotheby's, London (British), April 24–25, 1918, lot 243 (£1580 to Colnaghi); P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.; Donor: Mrs. William H. Osborn
Morgan Library & Museum. "European Drawings 1375-1825," 1981.

Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt. "Dürer," October 23, 2013–February 2, 2014.

Hans Tietze "Dürer in America." Art Bulletin. vol. 15, no. 1, New York, March 1933, fig. no. 2, ill.

Christopher White Dürer: The Artist and His Drawings. New York, 1971, cat. no. under no.34, p. 100.

Christopher White "'An Oriental Ruler on his Throne' and 'The Entombment': Two New Drawings by Albrecht Dürer." Master Drawings. vol. 11, no. 2, 1973, p. 371.

Walter L. Strauss The Complete Drawings of Albrecht Dürer. New York, 1974, cat. no. 1501/8, fig. no. 1501/8, p. 582, ill.

Charles W. Talbot, Jr. "Recent Literature on Drawings by Dürer." in Master Drawings. vol. 14, no. 3, 1976, p. 294.

Eric Zafran "Cherchez la Femme. Letter from New England." Apollo. vol. 108, no. 199, 1978, fig. no. 2, p. 200, ill.

Cara D. Denison, Helen Bobritzky Mules, Jane V. Shoaf, Morgan Library & Museum European Drawings 1375-1825. Exh. cat. New York, 1981, cat. no. under no.32, p. 58.

Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Guy Fitch Lytle Nuremberg, a Renaissance City, 1500-1618. Ex. cat., Austin: Sept.2-Oct.16, 1983; Lawrence: Nov. 7-Dec. 31, 1983; Santa Barbara: Feb. 15-March 18, 1984. Blanton Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, Austin, 1983–1984, cat. no. under no.11, p. 104.

Fedja Anzelewsky, Hans Mielke Albrecht Dürer. Kritischer Katalog der Zeichnungen. Berlin, 1984, cat. no. under no.31, p. 33.

John Rowlands, Giulia Bartrum The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings 1400-1550 Exh. cat., British Museum, London. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, 1988, cat. no. under no. 51, p. 78.

John Rowlands Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German-Speaking Regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. The Fifteenth Century, and Sixteenth Century by Artists Born before 1530. British Museum, 2 vols., London, 1993, cat. no. under 156, vol. 1, pp. 74-75.

Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400-1700 Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012, p. ix, fig. 2, ill.

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