Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I (1518) by Albrecht Durer

Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I - Albrecht Durer - 1518

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Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Emperor Maximilian I
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Dimensions74 x 61.5 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

About Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I

The artwork “Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I” is a significant work by Albrecht Dürer dated 1518. As an exemplar of the Northern Renaissance movement, this portrait stands out for its remarkable detail and realism. Measuring 74 by 61.5 cm, the painting is presently housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. It is a compelling example of the portrait genre, showcasing Dürer’s skill in capturing not just the physical likeness but also the essence of the sitter.

In the artwork, Emperor Maximilian I is depicted with a stern and contemplative expression. He is adorned in luxurious clothing, suggesting his high status and authority. The emperor’s garment features a lavish fur cloak draping over his shoulder, indicating wealth and power. The inner fabric beneath the fur cloak is rendered in rich red tones that contrast with the natural browns of the fur, highlighting the emperor’s affluent status. In his hands, he holds a pomegranate, which is often symbolic of power, fertility, and resurrection, possibly alluding to the Emperor’s desire for legacy and continuity. maxximilian I is portrayed wearing a large black hat, typical of the fashion of the time, which adds to his regal bearing.

The background is a deep, muted green, which serves to focus attention on the figure in the foreground. Above Maximilian’s head is an ornate coat of arms, imbued with symbolism and signifying his imperial lineage. The detailed inscription on the upper left side of the artwork commemorates the emperor’s life and achievements. Dürer’s command of detail is also evident in the meticulous rendering of the facial features, costume textures, and the compelling gaze that seems to follow the viewer.

Dürer’s technical mastery and his ability to infuse the portrait with a sense of gravitas are representative of the Northern Renaissance’s focus on detailed observation and portraiture as a means of conveying the inner life and status of the subject. This portrait remains an important link between the subject and the viewer, offering an intimate look at one of the most powerful figures of the time through the lens of Dürer’s remarkable artistic prowess.

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