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Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam

Artist: Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
Culture: German
Date: 1526
Medium: Engraving on paper
Image: 9 13/16 x 7 5/8 inches (24.9 x 19.4 cm)
Plate: 9 15/16 x 7 3/4 inches (25.2 x 19.7 cm)
Sheet: 10 1/8 x 7 7/8 inches (25.7 x 20 cm)
Mat: 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Classification: Print
Credit Line: Museum purchase, Charles Rufus Clegg Art Collection Fund.
Label Text:Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (c. 1466-1536) was a Dutch intellectual widely known throughout Europe for his religious writings and correspondence with hundreds of high-standing politicians and philosophers. Despite Erasmus’s own position as a Roman Catholic priest, he produced new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament that raised questions regarding Catholic religious practices and were influential in the Protestant Reformation, initiated in 1517 by Martin Luther.

Dürer met Erasmus in the Netherlands in 1520 and produced this print several years later. The scholar is shown surrounded by books and standing while writing, as was his habit. A vase of violets and lilies-of-the-valley represent his love of beauty and symbolize modesty and purity. Framed in the background are the Latin words “This image of Erasmus of Rotterdam was drawn from life by Albrecht Dürer”, and, in Greek, “A better portrait his writings show,” with the date and the artist’s monogram. Though Erasmus once praised Dürer as the greatest of graphic artists, he expressed disappointment in this portrait, noting that it made him look too young.

Provenance: P. von Baldinger-Seidenberg (Lugt 212). Lucien Goldschmidt, Inc., New York, NY.
Object number: 1973.33.1
In Collection(s)