A Hedgehog, before 1584
Hans Hoffmann (German, ca. 1530–1591/92)
Watercolor and gouache on parchment; 7 7/8 x 11 3/4 in. (20 x 29.8 cm)
Purchase, Annette de la Renta Gift, 2005 (2005.347)
Some forty years after the death of Albrecht Dürer in 1528, a renewed interest in his art led to the "Dürer Renaissance," which originated in Nuremberg, the city where he worked for most of his life, and flourished in Prague at the court of Rudolph II. It is a testimony to the formidable scope of Dürer's oeuvre that the best-known artist of that Renaissance, Hans Hoffmann, based his reputation on just one aspect of the master's work. Although Hoffmann was a painter and a draftsman of portraits and religious subjects (examples of which have been acquired by the Museum in recent years), he is remembered mainly for his studies of plants and animals. This breathtakingly lifelike depiction of a hedgehog must have been based on sketches made from life. More than Dürer, who tended to stress the objectivity of his observation, Hoffmann animated his depictions of animals, suggesting in a most touching way a human alertness absent from the greater artist's nature studies.