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    Sale 7375

    The Genius of the German Renaissance: Prints by Albrecht Dürer

    4 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 120

    Albrecht Dürer

    Ulrich Varnbüler (B. 150; M., Holl., S.M.S. 256; Strauss, chiaroscuro 1)

    Price Realised  


    Albrecht Dürer
    Ulrich Varnbüler (B. 150; M., Holl., S.M.S. 256; Strauss, chiaroscuro 1)
    chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks in black, olive-green and ochre-green, 1522, a very impressive Meder III a impression with strong relief, with the address of W. Janssen (Blaeu) trimmed off at the lower edge, the colours particularly fresh and well registered, watermark Circle with two Arcs and a Flourish (M. 258), trimmed just outside the borderline, a small printer's crease with the paper slightly split at the upper right corner, a small abrasion on the collar of the tunic, an uninked horizontal printer's crease at the centre right, some slight staining at the edges, otherwise in excellent, fresh condition
    S. 439 x 335 mm.

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    Ulrich Varnbüler (1474-1544) was Imperial Councillor and Chancellor to Archduke Ferdinand I, King of Bohemia and Hungary. He became a close friend of both Dürer and Willibald Pirckheimer in about 1515. In 1519 Varnbüler issued a translation of Erasmus's tract Dulce bellum inexperto and in 1522, the year of Dürer's woodcut, Pirckheimer dedicated a Latin translation of Lucian's dialogue Navis sue vota to Varnbüler. Dürer's dedication on the present woodcut, reads 'Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg wishes to make known to posterity and to honour by this likeness his dearest friend Ulrich, surnamed Varnbüler, confidential and principal secretary to the Imperial Roman Government'. Dürer's preparatory charcoal drawing for the woodcut is in the Albertina, Vienna (W. 908).

    No contemporary chiaroscuro impressions of the woodcut are recorded. As part of a Dürer 'renaissance' in the Netherlands in the late 16th Century, Hendrik Hondius issued impressions of the line block around 1600. The block then passed to Willem Janssen (Blaeu), who cut two additional blocks and printed chiaroscuro impressions sometime after 1620.

    Strauss records eleven chiaroscuro impressions of this woodcut in museum collections.

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    Duke of Devonshire (cf. L. 718 & 719); Old Master Prints from Chatsworth, Christie's, London, 5 December 1985, lot 22 (£15,000).