Review: The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance Artist
Take a trip across Europe in the National Gallery’s latest exhibition, The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance Artist. Explore the life of Albrecht Dürer like never before as you follow in his footsteps across the Alps, up to the shores of Venice and through the Low Countries.
Review: The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance Artist at the National Gallery
Art history buffs can head over to the National Gallery this winter for a dose of the German Renaissance, with the new show The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance Artist. Marking the first wide-ranging exhibition of Albrecht Dürer’s work within the UK in nearly 20 years, Dürer’s Journeys constructs a narrative of the artist’s career through his travels.
As one of the most well-travelled artists in history, Dürer is known for implementing an extensive visual and cultural language in his artwork. With his inspiration acting as a backdrop, the exhibition, organised by the National Gallery and the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum in Aachen, opens up the story of Dürer’s career with a heavy emphasis on the network of people, places and events that he came into contact with.
With over 50 lenders, Dürer’s Journeys brings many artworks to the gallery that have previously never been in exhibited before in the UK. From his early years in Nuremberg to his travels through the Alps, Venetian lagoon and Lower Countries, the retrospective exhibition takes a deep dive into the world of the Master artist.
The exhibition starts in Dürer’s birthplace, Nuremberg, where visitors are invited to interact with some of the artist’s earliest works and inspirations. Alongside a glimpse into his home life, which Dürer documents in the family chronicles, the work of Martin Schongauer is highlighted as a long-standing influence on the artist.
The artist’s travels begin well and truly during the mid-1490s, when Dürer traversed the Alps and started making visits to Italy. A room in the exhibition is dedicated entirely to the work Dürer embarked on while staying in Venice in the early 1500s, documenting through letters to friends the frustrations, observations and activities the artist got up to while he was there. A later copy of Dürer’s The Feast of the Rose Garlands takes centre stage as the artwork that won him praise amongst the city’s Italian artists.
Dürer’s Journeys continues with a focus on the artist’s return to Nuremberg and time spent in the Low Countries, during which time he shifted away from large altarpieces. Here, visitors can see the extent of Dürer’s prowess in engraving, with many of his most famous engraved works on show – think Knight, Death and the Devil, Melancholia I and Saint Jerome in his Study.
The exhibition also explores the relationships Dürer developed through his time travelling, from the patronage of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I to friends like the humanist Erasmus. Portraits by Dürer, created in painting, print and drawing, line the gallery walls and highlight just how large the artist’s network of acquaintances grew in just a matter of years.
Artists like Giovanni Bellini and Joachim Patinir are also put in the spotlight for their friendship and collaborations with Dürer. Take a look at The Assassination of Saint Peter Martyr in the Venice room to see how Bellini borrowed compositional references from Dürer, and make sure to stop by the small gallery of Patinir’s artworks in room six highlighting the relationship between the two artists.
The exhibition closes with Dürer’s trip to Antwerp, where he crafted some of his last paintings and engravings – creating a legacy that enraptured many Netherlandish artists. One of which, Saint Jerome, is highlighted for its stylistic impact on many later renditions of the subject in art history. As such, Dürer’s Journeys leaves us with a final message: talent is talent, regardless of place or time.
The Final Word
If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the life of a Renaissance artist, then look no further than The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance. The exhibition acts as a lens through which we can observe Dürer’s life, with his artworks, sketchbooks and journal entries richly fleshing out his career. His achievements and triumphs, observations and influences and the people he met, travelled with and worked for – all of the things that moulded Dürer into the artist he was are held up to the spotlight.
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys – Travels of a Renaissance will be showing at the National Gallery from 20 November 2021 to 27 February 2022. Tickets are £20. For more information, please visit nationalgallery.org.uk
Featured image: Getty Images
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