The good thief (1505) by Albrecht Durer

The good thief - Albrecht Durer - 1505

Artwork Information

TitleThe good thief
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationAlbertina, Vienna, Austria

About The good thief

The artwork titled “The Good Thief” was created by Albrecht Dürer in 1505, during the Northern Renaissance. It is categorized as a religious painting and forms part of a study on the “Ober St. Veit altar.” Presently, the piece is located in the Albertina, Vienna, Austria.

The artwork depicts a male figure, almost nude, bound to the cross. His arms are stretched above his head, with his hands tied together to the vertical beam of the cross. The anatomy of the figure is well-defined, displaying Dürer’s mastery in rendering the human form. The facial expression conveys a sense of strain or suffering, fitting to the theme of a crucifixion. The loincloth is the only piece of clothing on the figure, and his muscles and sinew are detailed, emphasizing the tension and gravity of the scene.

The cross itself is rendered with attention to the wood grain and texture, giving the image a poignant realism. An inscription “1505”—the year of creation—is visible above the figure, and Dürer’s monogram “AD” is evident on the beam of the cross. The powerful depiction of the good thief reflects the religious fervor and artistic sophistication of the Northern Renaissance.

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