Albrecht Dürer’s drawing bought for $30 million

An undisclosed portrait by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer has been unveiled at the Agnews Gallery in London.

Bought five years ago at a house clearance sale in the US for just €27 ($30), it is now estimated to sell for around €44.5 million ($50 million).

“The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bank” (dated to circa 1503) was in the collection of the architect Jean-Paul Karlhein, who lived outside Boston. He died in 2012 and his widow, Elizabeth, died three years later, leading to the sale of the house in 2016.

Although the drawing had a prominent “Eddie” monogram, the family believed it to be a 20th-century reproduction, either of a Dürer drawing or a print.

It was Clifford Shorr, a major shareholder of Agnews, who later discovered in 2019. He told The Art Newspaper that the drawing could “get a record price” for a work on paper by an old master. However, Agnews has not fixed a price and is currently looking for interest.

German Renaissance Master

Considered one of Germany’s most influential painters, Albrecht Dürer’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is one of art history’s masterpieces.

Born in 1471, Dürer lived in a transitional period between the late Middle Ages and the early modern era.

It was a time of significant social upheaval that saw the church and religion rapidly lose importance. Instead, the individual also came to the fore in art. The new image of the Renaissance man took the main place in literature, architecture, painting and sculpture. Dürer’s work reflects these great developments of the time.

travel as inspiration

Nuremberg, the natives of Dürer, was a center of economic and cultural life during their time. This helped the master of wood and copperplate engraving gain early fame.

The art market was also rapidly changing during this period. Dürer was financially stable, due to a pension from the emperor, and from the sale of his paintings, for example at the Frankfurt Fair. Thus, he quickly became a superstar of the European art scene during his lifetime.

His stint as a goldsmith’s apprentice helped him hone his exquisite craftsmanship.

He learned to work with metal surfaces and applied this knowledge to create his famous copper carvings.

As a result, his woodcuts and copper carvings were printed in great numbers and sold well in Germany and throughout Europe. His monogram can be found on all his works – the seal of quality, and an early precursor to the concept of copyright.

Dürer’s great passion was to travel, and this inspired his works. Five hundred years ago, between 1520 and 1521, he traveled to the Rhineland and then formed the Netherlands. He kept a travel journal that gives us information about how he lived, who he met, and what amazed and inspired him.

Among others, he visited Aachen to attend the coronation of Charles V in October 1520, returning to the city on his home visit to Nuremberg in July 1521. The art of this road trip was displayed in Aachen at the 2021 exhibition “Dürer Was Here. A Journey Becomes Legend,” which commemorated the artist’s 550th birthday.

The Agnews Gallery in London is now presenting the newly discovered drawing in the show “Durer and His Time”.

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