Suicide of Lucretia (1518) by Albrecht Durer

Suicide of Lucretia - Albrecht Durer - 1518

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Artwork Information

TitleSuicide of Lucretia
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Dimensions168 x 74 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBavarian State Painting Collections, Munich, Germany

About Suicide of Lucretia

The “Suicide of Lucretia” is a history painting by Albrecht Dürer, created in 1518. This work is executed in oil on panel and measures 168 x 74 cm. It is a representation from the Northern Renaissance movement and is located in the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich, Germany.

The artwork depicts the tragic figure of Lucretia, a noblewoman of ancient Rome who was said to have taken her own life after being the victim of sexual assault. This act led to an uprising that contributed to the change from a monarchy to the Roman Republic. Dürer’s portrayal of Lucretia captures the moment of her deep distress and resolve to end her suffering. She stands nearly central in the composition, unclothed except for a draped loincloth, holding a knife in her right hand, which she is poised to plunge into her chest. Her upper body is slightly turned, offering a view of her anatomical features with a fidelity to form characteristic of the Northern Renaissance’s attention to detail. Her melancholic expression reinforces the gravity and seriousness of the scene. The use of chiaroscuro, the interplay of light and shadow, adds dramatic intensity to the artwork, heightening the emotional impact on the viewer. Behind Lucretia, a deep red curtain and a darkened room serve as the backdrop, emphasizing her isolation in this final act.

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