Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso)
Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)
Pen and brown ink
10 15/16 x 7 15/16 in. (27.8 x 20.2 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
Among the masterpieces of European draftsmanship, this iconic self-portrait study evokes the awakening artistic consciousness of the twenty-two-year-old German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. Probably produced with the aid of a mirror, the head and the hand were preparatory for his painted Self-Portrait of 1493 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), considered one of the earliest independent self-portraits in Western painting. Durer’s exploration of self-portraiture in several drawings and paintings is characterized by an arresting directness that was highly unusual at the time. The artist’s calligraphic precision and expressiveness of line is also found in the study of a pillow at the bottom of the sheet, a subject that he continued to explore on the reverse.
On the reverse of the sheet (dated 1493 by the artist), Dürer made a series of sketches of pillows, exploring the effects of light on the folds in a manner reminiscent of drapery studies. The varying forms and textures of the pillows—some are twisted, faceted, and deeply contoured, while others have smooth, flat areas—reveal his detailed attention to the many configurations of the everyday object.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: On the recto at the center top: the monogram Ad was added by another hand in thicker, more reddish brown ink.
Marking: Inscribed in brown ink on the verso at the center top: 1493; at the lower left, a collector's stamp about 8mm in diameter, in reddish brown: MUZ LUBOM Sorrounding the letters IO (or the number 10?)
Watermark: three fleurs-de-lis in a shield, with a crown and flower and a suspended letter t (similar to Piccard XIII (III), no. 1734 [Sitten 1494] or no. 1735 [Siegen 1494]; chain lines 46-47 mm apart.
Prince Heinrich (Henryk) Lubomirski (1777-1850), Przeworsk; moved to the "Lubomirski Museum," Ossolinski Nationalinstitut, Lviv, after 1868; confiscated by the German occupation forces on 2 July 1941 and removed to Germany; United States Army, 1945-48; Prince Georg Lubomirski; [Schaeffer Galleries, New York]. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1952.
Stijn Alsteens, Freyda Spira, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings Before 1700 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat.New York and New Haven, 2012, pp. 12-16, no. 6.