St Peter (1526) by Albrecht Durer

St Peter - Albrecht Durer - 1526

Artwork Information

TitleSt Peter
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationAlte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

About St Peter

The artwork “St Peter” is by Albrecht Dürer, created in 1526, and reflects the Northern Renaissance art movement. It is a religious painting that can be found at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

The painting is a detailed and intimate portrait of St. Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and often regarded as the first Pope by the Roman Catholic Church. In this representation, Dürer has provided a realistic and close-up depiction of an elderly man, presumably the saint himself. The figure’s head is bowed in contemplation or prayer, signifying a moment of reflection or spiritual communion. His face is marked by age, with deep wrinkles and a furrowed brow, displaying a sense of gravitas. He has a full beard and mustache, with the hair on his head slightly receding.

The texture of St. Peter’s skin is highly detailed, suggesting not only his age but also the wisdom and experience that comes with it. He wears a garment that appears soft, possibly made of fine cloth, with subtle folds that indicate its drapery. His garment includes a cloak in a soft shade, possibly conveying the traditional blue associated with depictions of biblical figures.

Most notably, on the right side of the composition, we see a portion of a large key, which is a symbol traditionally associated with St. Peter. The keys reference the authority given to Peter and his successors, as per the Gospel narrative where Christ says to him, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The rendering of the key in this painting indicates its importance and embodies the symbolic power vested in the figure.

Dürer’s execution of this piece, with its precise rendering and evocative expression, typifies the Northern Renaissance focus on detail, realism, and the conveyance of character and emotion through portraiture.

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