Heller Altarpiece (detail, Supposed Self Portrait) (c.1509) by Albrecht Durer

Heller Altarpiece (detail, Supposed Self Portrait) - Albrecht Durer - c.1509

Artwork Information

TitleHeller Altarpiece (detail, Supposed Self Portrait)
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About Heller Altarpiece (detail, Supposed Self Portrait)

This painting is a detail from the “Heller Altarpiece,” believed to contain what is considered a supposed self-portrait by Albrecht Dürer, a prominent figure of the Northern Renaissance. Created around 1509, it reflects the movement’s attention to detail and interest in personal, humanist themes, indicated by the genre of self-portraiture.

The artwork depicts a figure standing beside a tall stone plinth, on which is inscribed text—most likely identifying the artist and giving context to the painting. The figure is dressed in the fashion of the period, wearing a long robe with fur lining and a hat. His beard and hair are prominently depicted, with a thoughtful expression on his face.

The setting is a modest landscape that includes distant hills, foliage, and what appear to be buildings, possibly suggesting a rural or small-town background. The composition emphasizes the figure, who is the focal point of this piece, and the solid, straight lines of the plinth contrast with the organic forms of the natural background. The figure’s hand rests on the stone, drawing the viewer’s eye to the inscription, thereby inviting us to read and gather more information about the artwork or the artist himself. This combination of portraiture with landscape is characteristic of the period’s art, embodying the merging of detailed observation with personal representation.

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