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    Sale 7375

    The Genius of the German Renaissance: Prints by Albrecht Dürer

    4 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 126

    Albrecht Dürer

    Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (The Large Cardinal) (B. 103; M., Holl. 101; S.M.S. 97)

    Price Realised  


    Albrecht Dürer
    Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (The Large Cardinal) (B. 103; M., Holl. 101; S.M.S. 97)
    engraving, circa 1523, a very good but slightly later impression, printed with tone, watermark City Gate (M. 263), trimmed on or just outside the borderline, residual mounting tape on the reverse, otherwise in very good condition
    S. 175 x 128 mm.

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    That Dürer was rather pragmatic in his relations with his patrons and in his support for Martin Luther's cause is shown by this second engraved portrait of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg. As the representative of the Holy See in Germany Albrecht was Luther's natural antagonist and his attitude towards the reformation was by no means sympathetic. In fact, the present engraving, created during Albrecht's attendance of the Imperial Diet in Nuremberg in 1523, could have been commissioned as a direct answer to Lucas Cranach's portrait of Luther engraved two years before, as Matthias Mende suggests.

    Considering how sympathetic he was towards Luther (see note for lot 127), it seems strange to think that Dürer would have collaborated in the propaganda against the reformation. However, Dürer was keenly aware of the commercial responsibilities of an artistic career and it must have been difficult to reject a commission from one of the highest lords of the Empire and the Church.

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    Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch (L. 402); Christie's, London, 19 April 1887, lot 1585 (£4.10s to Colnaghi).