Head of a suffering man (1503) by Albrecht Durer

Head of a suffering man - Albrecht Durer - 1503

Artwork Information

TitleHead of a suffering man
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBritish Museum, London, UK

About Head of a suffering man

Albrecht Dürer’s “Head of a Suffering Man” is a portrait drawing completed in 1503, during the Northern Renaissance period. The artwork is currently housed in the British Museum in London, United Kingdom. This drawing is a notable example of Dürer’s skill in capturing human expression.

The artwork depicted is a monochrome drawing that portrays a man’s head in profile, turned to the left. The subject appears to be middle-aged with a receding hairline, and he is wearing a cap adorned with a round, jeweled medallion. His facial expression is one of distress or pain; his eyebrows are furrowed, and his mouth is open as if he were either gasping or moaning. The man’s eyes are also sharply turned upward, which could indicate he is reacting to something beyond his immediate viewpoint, suggesting an emotional or physical agony.

Dürer has masterfully used shading to create depth and realism, especially noticeable in the creases of the man’s forehead, the hollow of his cheek, and the texture of his curly beard. The year “1503” is inscribed alongside the artist’s monogram in the upper right corner, indicating when the piece was created. The powerful depiction of human emotion and the fine details attest to Dürer’s reputation as one of the greatest figures of the Northern Renaissance and his expertise in the genre of portraiture.

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