Archive for the 'European Art' Category

A Fête to Remember

Tomorrow evening the DMA will kick off an Annual Fête celebrating 18th-century French masterpieces from the Michael L. Rosenberg Collection and the release of a new publication, French Art of the Eighteenth Century: The Michael L. Rosenberg Lecture Series at the Dallas Museum of Art. Join us for performances, talks, art making, and a tres magnifique menu.

Before we step back in time and party like it’s 1799, I asked each of the past and present curators of the Rosenberg Collection to share a favorite work of art or a fond memory of working with this group of objects. Catch up with them at the Annual Fête, where they will be available to answer questions about your favorite Rosenberg artworks.

Nicky Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, DMA

“It is truly a privilege to be able to display and study such an important collection of 18th-century French artwork. Beyond its art historical significance, beyond its extraordinary quality and condition, the Rosenberg Collection is simply stunning. Lush colors, sumptuous costumes, and elegant figures welcome you to the Michael L. Rosenberg Galleries of 18th-Century Art, some of my favorite rooms in the Museum. When we enter these spaces, we are instantly transported back in time to a rare moment when the decorative and fine arts shared the same aesthetic, and when patrons and artists shared similar sensibilities. It is hard for me to choose a favorite work within the Rosenberg Collection, but I’m particularly drawn to the Greuze, Boilly, and Largillière paintings.”

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Dreamer, 1765–1769, 29.2004.10, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Dreamer, 1765–69, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.10

Heather MacDonald, Program Officer, Getty Foundation

“What I enjoyed most about working with the Michael L. Rosenberg Collection and its annual lecture series was the opportunity to invite amazing scholars, whose work I’ve admired for years, to come to Dallas and share their research. They’re like historical detectives, piecing together bits of evidence gathered over a lifetime of research and close looking.

I don’t like to choose favorites among works of art in the galleries, but I will confess to an adoration of François-André Vincent’s portrait of the playwright Desforges. It’s such a modern, informal portrait: Desforges is shown in his (beautifully painted) shirtsleeves, with a five-o’clock shadow, looking off in the distance as if caught in a moment of creative inspiration. Vincent painted Desforges on the cusp of the Revolution, which offered new kinds of individual freedoms to French citizens, but this portrait also says so much about how the modern individual had been reimagined by the Enlightenment. There is a whole story about the 18th century contained in this image!”

François André Vincent, Portrait of Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Choudard (called Desforges), 1789, 29.2004.1, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

François André Vincent, Portrait of Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Choudard (called Desforges), 1789, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.1

Eik Kahng, Assistant Director and Chief Curator, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

“What I remember most fondly about Michael was his sincere love for the works of art that he collected. Before it came to the DMA, the collection was installed at Michael’s house. He very kindly allowed for private tours from time to time, which everyone greatly enjoyed. Michael would routinely ask me to lead the tours, starting in the living room, where the great Lemoyne Bather and the wonderful Oudry animal painting of a water spaniel confronting a heron were on view. However, about five minutes into my talk, Michael would invariably interrupt and start adding his own, detailed commentary. He was so passionate about each and every object and could speak eloquently and informatively about each one. I always teased him that he didn’t need me to be there at all, since he was more than capable of providing his own overview of the collection. It’s always such a pleasure to listen to collectors who really love their art.”

Jean–Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, 29.2004.8, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Jean–Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.8

 

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Off the Wall: A New Experience

What do David Bowie, James Bond, The Karate Kid, Bon Jovi, and dragons have in common? They all served as inspiration for our newest program, Off the Wall.

This spring and summer, the Adult Programming team spent many hours brainstorming themes, program ideas, and the best format for a new evening event. We wanted to be playful in our approach, making sure everyone would have a fun and unexpected experience—thus Off the Wall was born.

From 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, Off the Wall will offer a unique way to explore our collection with a pop culture twist. We will launch Off the Wall tomorrow with an exploration of space, astronomy, and the 60s with our take on Space Oddity.

Each member of the team brought her own area of geeky pop culture knowledge to the table, for example, but not limited to, 80s TV, movies, and music (Stacey); movies and all things sci-fi and fantasy (Jessie); Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and over the top action movies (Katie); and all things 90s with a specialty in rap from the early 2000s (Madeleine).

So stop by and geek out with us, revel in the pop culture madness with us, and boldly go on this new adventure in the DMA collection with us.

October 13: Space Oddity 

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund, 1986.8.a-b, (c) Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY 

November 10: Gogh Your Own Way 

Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, July 1890, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, July 1890, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.80

December 8: Winter Is Coming

Finial: Dragon head, 11th–14th century, Bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.24

Finial: dragon head, Iran, 11th–14th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.24

January 12: Plot Twist

Thinking Bodhisattva, Asian, 4th-6th century C.E., terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and General Acquisitions Fund, 2010.17

Thinking Bodhisattva, Afghanistan, 4th-6th century C.E., terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and General Acquisitions Fund, 2010.17

February 9: Shot Through the Heart

Yinka Shonibare, M.B.E., A Masked Ball (Un ballo mascherd), 2004, high-definition digital video, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.26

Yinka Shonibare, M.B.E., A Masked Ball (Un ballo mascherd), 2004, high-definition digital video, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.26, (c) Yinka Shonibare

March 9: Et Tu, Brute?

Ceremonial Knife (Metal Inlaid Grip), African, 19th-20th century, wood, steel, nickel-silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott, 1969.S.79

Ceremonial knife, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19th-20th century, wood, steel, and nickel-silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott, 1969.S.79

April 13: Shaken, Not Stirred

William Waldo Dodge, Jr., “Skyscraper” cocktail shaker with cups, c. 1928-1931, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1-12

Skyscraper cocktail shaker with cups, William Waldo Dodge, Jr., designer, c. 1928-31, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1-12

May 11: Wax On, Wax Off

Wraparound skirt, (kain panjang) [pointed-ends cloud motif (megamenlang), Indonesia: Java, c. 1910, Cotton, commercial dye (?), Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

Wraparound skirt (kain panjang): cloud design (megamenlang), Indonesia, Java, c. 1910, cotton and commercial dye (?), Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

June 8: Make It Work!   

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1867-1868, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.59

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise Sewing, c. 1867-68, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.59

 

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, © L & M Services B. V., Amsterdam, 1981.105

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981. 105, © L & M Services B. V., Amsterdam

Bastille Day is this Thursday, but the revolution will last an extra day as we continue the festivities during our July Late Night.

marie antoinette 2

To help you practice your French numbers, here are some things you can experience that evening:

Un – The number of movies starring Kirsten Dunst that will be screened (spoiler alert: it’s Marie Antoinette).

Deux – The number of people facing off against each other in our fencing and dueling demonstrations.

Trois  The number of hours DJ Wild in the Streets will spin a mix of eclectic French music.

Quatre – The number of tours that will explore the French Revolution, fashion, and portraiture.

Cinq – The number of hours you can hear live French music performed by local musicians.  

Six – The time that Late Night starts, so don’t être en retard!

Sept – The start time for our Late Night Talk sharing a quick history of the French Revolution.  

Huit – The number of selfies you should take in front of French portraits in our Rosenberg Collection, and then share them on our Instagram with #DMAnights.  

Neuf – The number of rogue mimes you might see walking around.

Dix – The number of times DMA staff might yell “vive la DMA!” during the evening.

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson (La leçon de Harpe), 1791, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund -

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2015.10.FA

In addition to our Late Night, Bastille Day Dallas will expand its annual celebration and bring more French culture to the Dallas Arts District with outdoor activities on Flora Street. So put on your beret, grab a baguette, and join us!

Bastille on Flora

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.

After Hours

Have you ever wondered what museum curators do to relax and unwind at the end of their day? For Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, one of his favorite things is to look through online versions of auction house and gallery catalogs. What seems like a bit of a “busman’s holiday” worked to our advantage a few months ago.

Cover to Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for 21 November 2014 auction

Cover of Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for November 21, 2014, auction

It all started on a stormy night early last November when he clicked on the website for the Parisian auction house Audap & Mirabaud. On their homepage was the lovely self-portrait by Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier (1787-1877), a lesser-known French painter, sculptor, and engraver who had exhibited at the Salon between 1817 and 1838.

The painting that caught Olivier’s attention is signed and dated 1833, and Carpentier exhibited it at the Salon the following year. For some time, the DMA had been seeking to purchase a large-scale 19th-century Salon portrait, and this one fit the bill. It was to be auctioned in Paris on November 21, and, as it happened, Olivier would be in France on the day of the sale, but not in Paris. Luckily, he had plans to be in the glorious city a few days beforehand and found an occasion to examine the painting.

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

It was as impressive as he had hoped, and so he registered to bid. The only remaining problem was that at the precise time of the sale he was to be at a conference in a city four hours away. About mid-morning on November 21, he discreetly slipped out of his meeting for a few minutes to bid by telephone on the artwork. To our great fortune, he was the high bidder. All of his maneuverings were worthwhile.

When he returned to Paris a few days later, to his great surprise, he learned from an agent with Audap & Mirabaud that a small, fully realized preliminary drawing of the portrait had become available. He bought it on the spot.

(left) Study for “Self-Portrait of the Artist and his Family in his Studio,” c. 1833, pencil on paper, private collection (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

(left) Study for Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, c. 1833, pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Olivier Meslay, 2015.20.FA; (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Having the opportunity to place a highly detailed drawing next to the executed painting is quite rare. It provides us with the chance to delve into the artist’s creative process and study any last-minute compositional changes made between the two works. In this case, we learn that in the completed painting, Carpentier rearranged the sculptures in the background, while in the foreground he added the yellow and red paisley shawl draped over the back of the chair on which his daughter,r wearing a blue dress, rests her arm.

Another exciting aspect of these purchases is that it presented us with an opportunity to learn about Carpentier’s life. One of the most immediate revelations happened shortly after the painting arrived at the DMA. Much to our surprise, we discovered a small slip of paper affixed to the back of the frame. On the very old sheet were handwritten details (in French, of course) about Carpentier; his wife, Adèle; and daughter Clémence.

Note

Slip of paper affixed to upper rail of the back of the frame with details of the artist’s immediate family and descendants.

As our research about Carpentier progressed, we unearthed some very intriguing discoveries. While he was quite active in the Society des Beaux-Arts, advocating for various artistic mutual aid societies, he was also an accomplished theoretician and technician of encaustic painting. The ancient process of adding pigment to melted beeswax, which dates back to antiquity, fascinated Carpentier throughout his lifetime and culminated in his authoring a detailed treatise about the technique that artists still consult today.

Notes en cire

Cover of Notes sur la peinture: a la cire cautérisée procédé encaustique by Paul Carpentier

Most interestingly, we discovered that one of his closest friends was Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), the French artist and photographer recognized for inventing the eponymous process of photography. As a testament to their mutual admiration, Carpentier made a painting and bust of his good friend, but more importantly, in 1855 he wrote a monograph about Daguerre that to this day remains the single greatest firsthand contemporary account on the birth of photography.

Knowing more about Carpentier, and turning back to his self-portrait, we see that in it he brought together people and things that held an important place in his life. While we discovered valuable information about the painting and artist, we also learned that we all gain when our Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs relaxes at the end of a busy day by surfing the Web. Visit the newly conserved painting in the DMA’s Level 2 European Art Galleries, included in free general admission, today!

Martha MacLeod is the Assistant to the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

Sound Waves

We have plenty in store to stimulate your senses during this Friday’s Late Night, and one program in particular is sure to hit the right note. As part of a special DMA Friends reward, DMA Friend Kyle West has created a soundtrack for our European collection on Level 2 that you’ll be able to enjoy that night. To whet your appetite, listen to this lively jig he paired with Seasickness on an English Corvette. We hope to see you Friday to hear the rest!

François Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette (Le mal de mer, au bal, abord d'une corvette Anglaise), 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J.E.R. Chilton 2011.27

François Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette, 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. E. R. Chilton, 2011.27

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund 1966.7

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C,, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund, 1966.7

Mirrors were present throughout different ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, and Etruscan, and were luxury items primarily associated with women. Additionally, a mirror was an object of profound symbolic significance, as it was considered to be a receptacle for the soul of the person whose image was reflected on its surface. The Etruscan word hinthial means both “soul” and “reflected image.” This dual concept relates to the ancient Egyptian word ankh, which means “life,” but also denotes the image of a mirror. In relation to the idea of life, many mirrors have been retrieved from the graves of Etruscan women, indicating both their desire to take earthly possessions of value into the next world and their need to not leave behind the device that contained their souls.

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., ink, paper, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg 2000.255.FA

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.255.FA

In the 19th century, women and mirrors were painted frequently by the French impressionists. Mary Cassatt, an American expatriate artist, used them as a possible motif for the vanity of women and the pleasure received when looking at one’s own reflection. Simultaneously, the viewer’s passive activity turns into an active interpretation of “reality” based on the power of paintings to construct reality. Such issues raise open-ended questions around the topics of female empowerment and physical subjugation: Are female subjects denied their own agency when viewed by an oppressive male gaze? Or do they become autonomous beings that exert physical potency and awareness by deliberately looking into their own selves?

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1947.18

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1947.18

With the advent of modernity, critical philosophers and thinkers developed new theoretical forms to describe psychoanalytic experience during the 20th century. Most notably, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is attributed with the concept of the “mirror stage.” This theory proposes that human infants go through a stage in which an external image of the body (reflected in a mirror, or represented to the infant through the mother or primary caregiver) produces a psychic response that gives rise to the mental representation of an “I.” Such precarious observations begin to interrogate the ideas of “self,” “self-identity,” and the “ego” at an early stage of life. This brings into discussion the notion of “reality” and the existential gestalt that relates to elements that correspond to individual experience and personal being.

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

On view through December 6, 2015, and included in free general admission, Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage— Visualizing the Self After the Internet explores themes of personal identity and “self” in the 21st century cyberworld. Consisting of eight different contemporary multimedia artists, Mirror Stage encapsulates the heterogeneous nature of visual Internet culture and its complex development since the dot-com era. Ryan Trecartin’s (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me) (2006) is situated on the inside and outer liminal space of an e-mail conversation as it emphasizes the paradoxical role of online communication as a unifying digital tool, while revealing the effect of an impending, manic social isolation on its users in the offline “real” world.

Historically, mirrors were regarded as a tool for truth and recognition through the reflection of one’s personal appearance. After centuries of being associated with femininity and the female body, the concept of a mirror as a “screen” has drastically changed with the emergence of modern technology. Online Internet resources, including social websites and gaming platforms, have enabled Internet users to create new forms of identity that break with the historical past of mirrors as a conveyor of truth. Are we ready to adopt multiple, complex identities offline in the real world as well as in the online world? What will be the future resources for affirming one’s own personal identity within the (cyber)world? Mirror Stage—Visualizing the Self After the Internet invites the viewer to question, explore, and reflect on the new forms of presenting oneself within the digital age.

 Fabian Leyva-Barragan is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Sources: de Grummond, N. T., ed. A Guide to Etruscan Mirrors, Tallahassee, Fla: Archaeological News, 1982; Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977).

Master of Monsters

One of the annual projects for the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art is to develop and curate a small exhibition pulled from the DMA’s works on paper collection. Of the pieces within the European collection (which includes over 1,500 works!), I was immediately drawn to ones by old masters (artists working before 1800), like Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Francisco de Goya. I found the work by German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) to be particularly fascinating, and I chose fourteen of his prints for the exhibition Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, which focuses on Dürer’s depiction of both the religious and the monstrous.

Dürer was a prolific artist working in the Northern Renaissance who revolutionized the field of printmaking through his original iconographic models, dynamic compositions, and skill in capturing details. Today he is widely hailed as one of the greatest printmakers of all time; however, since these prints are so tiny (those included in the exhibition measure only about 3 x 5 inches), it can be difficult to appreciate Dürer’s printmaking prowess in the galleries alone. To supplement your gallery experience, I thought I might share a few details from one of my favorite works in the exhibition, St. George on Foot.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

This engraving portrays St. George, a 3rd century military saint and martyr associated with his mythical slaying of a terrorizing dragon, the moment of which is depicted here. With a closer look, we can find some of the finer details that may otherwise be difficult to see in the gallery.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Here we see St. George’s sensitively rendered expression as he looks off into the distance. Tendrils of hair escape his hairnet, evidence of the recent struggle between man and beast, while his beard and mustache are made of distinct curls. Framing St. George’s face is a spontaneously sketched halo, designating his holiness. Notice how Dürer was able to capture the volume and texture of the saint’s suit of armor through hatching and crosshatching, representing his remarkable ability to represent the metallic qualities of armor.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

The defeated dragon lies belly-up at St. George’s feet. This position makes the dragon appear especially grotesque with its open eyes, bared teeth, sharpened claws, pointed nose, and spiked wings. The monster’s neck and tail are marked with wounds created by St. George’s sword. During the 16th century, many Europeans believed dragons were real, so Dürer’s dragon both emphasizes St. George’s courage in fighting the beast while also instilling fear of the evil and unknown into viewers.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Behind St. George, Dürer renders a village and harbor, which reminds us of the people George protected by slaying the dragon. The trees and buildings in a sinuous line appear as if they are floating on the water’s surface. The divide between land and water is ambiguous, and Dürer only implies land, shadow, water, and wave through simple hatch and crosshatch lines.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Following his victory, St. George cast off his helmet, which holds an elaborate arrangement of lush feathers. The extravagant plumes contrast with the metallic gleam of the saint’s armor and the coarseness of the dragon’s flesh. In the lower left corner is Dürer’s distinctive signature of his initials, “A.D.”  With a careful eye, you can find Dürer signatures in each of the prints included in Saints and Monsters.

I hope that with this closer look you will better be able to appreciate Dürer’s virtuosity in the print medium and ability to utilize shadow, texture, and form to convey drama and emotion. Come see this work and more in Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, currently on view in the European Works on Paper Gallery, located on Level 2 and included in the Museum’s free general admission.

Laura Sevelis is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art at the DMA.


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