A Rare Dürer Illustration May Have Been Hiding in Plain Sight in Germany

A brilliantly colored illustration believed to be the work of Albrecht Dürer has been discovered in the pages of a book at Germany’s Oldenburg State Library. The book, a Greek volume printed by the Venetian printer and publisher Aldus Manutius in 1502, was presented to the public on Tuesday night.

It’s a small picture, measuring only 16.5 by 6 centimeters, and shows two cherubs atop mystical marine creatures whose tongues twist to form the coat of arms of the Nuremberg scholar Willibald Pirckheimer.

The book sat in the holdings of the library for 230 years before the illustration was spotted during a survey of the Aldinen Collection. The prodigious archive contains some 263 of Dürer’s works and is one of the most valuable repositories of early printing history in Western Europe.

A full investigation into the artworks is still forthcoming, but the library said it feels confident that it is a Dürer original.

Dürer, who died in 1528, was close friends with Pirckheimer. It’s known that 14 books containing miniatures by the artist were sold to a Dutch collector by Pirckheimer’s heirs in 1634. According to the library, the “Oldenburg book painting is precisely described in [a] historical source of 1634 and thus the seventh Dürer miniature from this series that was rediscovered.”

The presentation was attended by Lower Saxony’s science minister, Björn Thümler, who called the discovery “sensational.”

The Dürer miniature, he continued, “proves that we in Lower Saxony house extraordinarily top-class collections and shows which undiscovered treasures are slumbering in our libraries. There is still a lot of potential here, for example for research cooperation between libraries and universities.”

Dürer was the most important and versatile artists of the German Renaissance, with a practice that spanned painting, drafting, and writing, though his most enduring achievement may have been in printmaking.

He voraciously absorbed the varied art traditions of Europe, often spending a year or more in its cultural capitals. Nuremberg was then a bright center for creative exchange. Because the city embraced the Protestant Reformation early on, it attracted theologians and scholars from throughout the continent. Dürer spent a formative period honing his craft amid Nuremberg’s intellectual milieu and presented those he respected most with portraits.

Share This Post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

On Key

Related Posts

Sam Gilliam (1933–2022)

Sam Gilliam, who profoundly reshaped the idea of painting by liberating the canvas from the frame and painting in three dimensions, died of kidney disease at his home in Washington, DC, June 26 at the

Innovative Abstract Artist Sam Gilliam Dies at 88

Artist Sam Gilliam passed away on Saturday, June 25 at age 88. Throughout his seven-decade career, Gilliam reinvented and continuously reshaped abstract painting and sculpture. Incorporating rich constellations of forms, textures, and materials to forge inventive compositions, his work has exerted a profound influence on subsequent generations of artists.

8 Convicted After Stealing Banksy Artwork in France

Eight men were convicted for stealing a Banksy piece in a French court last week, the National reported. The piece was a painted figure on the door of the Batalcan concert hall in Paris that memorialized those who lost their lives at the club in a 2015 attack. In 2019, the door was stolen by

Scroll to Top


Yes! Sign me up for AFYC's weekly newsletter featuring valuable info for artists, nonprofits, upcoming contests, and our new product offerings.

Count Me In!