Youth with executioner (c.1493) by Albrecht Durer

Youth with executioner - Albrecht Durer - c.1493

Artwork Information

TitleYouth with executioner
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBritish Museum, London, UK

About Youth with executioner

The artwork titled “Youth with Executioner” was created by Albrecht Dürer around 1493, who was a prominent figure in the Northern Renaissance. This piece is considered a genre painting. Currently, it can be found in the British Museum, located in London, UK.

The image depicts a stark and somewhat unsettling scene wherein a youth stands with an expression of serene acceptance or resignation. He is bare-chested, showcasing detailed anatomy that reflects Dürer’s skill in rendering the human form. Behind him is a figure, likely the executioner, whose facial expression conveys a sense of detached duty. The executioner’s hand is placed on the youth’s shoulder, while his other hand grips a large sword, pointed downward. The contrast between the youth’s calmness and the implied violence of the executioner’s profession creates a powerful juxtaposition.

Dürer’s use of line in this etching is masterful, providing texture and depth to the figures and their clothing, as well as accentuating the shadows and the forms of the muscles on the youth’s body. The attention to detail, typical of Dürer’s work, lends a sense of immediacy and intensity to the scene, inviting contemplation of its possible narratives and the fate of the youth.

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