Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1526) by Albrecht Durer

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam - Albrecht Durer - 1526

Artwork Information

TitleDesiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

The artwork titled “Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam” is an engraving by the artist Albrecht Dürer, created in the year 1526. This artwork belongs to the Northern Renaissance art movement and is a portrait genre piece. The original is held in a private collection.

The engraving depicts the well-known Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus is portrayed while engaged in writing, with a furrowed brow suggesting deep concentration. He is shown with a quill in hand, his eyes focused on his work, demonstrating his scholarly pursuits. The attire Erasmus wears is typical of the intellectual class of his time, with a large cloak and a Renaissance cap, conveying his status and creating an air of dignity and wisdom.

Around him are items that further emphasize his scholarly life. To his right, a shelf holds a large open book, possibly waiting for reference or recently consulted. Various papers and a small box, likely containing writing instruments or seals, are tucked inside the shelf. To his left is another book, the complexity and detail of which are captured with fine lines. On the table in front of him, alongside another set of papers, stands a vase holding what appears to be a sprig of flowers, adding a subtle touch of nature and beauty to the composition.

Notably, the background is composed of a plain, dark surface which contrasts with the richly detailed and textured foreground, drawing the viewer’s focus onto Erasmus and the objects of his study. The detailed carving seen in the open books, vase, and other elements showcase Dürer’s skill in creating texture and depth in the medium of engraving.

In addition, the image features Latin text that identifies the subject as Erasmus of Rotterdam, and credits Albrecht Dürer with crafting the portrayal from life (ad vivam). The year of the engraving’s creation, 1526, is marked clearly, along with Dürer’s distinctive AD monogram. The presence of inscriptions within the artwork allows it to serve not just as a portrait but as a historical document that conveys information about its subject and creator.

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