Portrait of a young Venetian woman: Albrecht Dürer

Portrait of a young Venetian Woman: Albrecht Dürer

Portrait of a young Venetian Woman is a 1506 painting by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer who was a prominent painter and printmaker in the late 15th century and early 16th century. This work is located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Analysis of Dürer’s Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman

Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman (1506) is a painting discovered in 1923 and finally attributed to Albrecht Dürer, the supreme master of the German Renaissance.

The unknown model posed for Dürer during his second visit to Venice, in 1505-06, at a time when the city was one of Europe’s capitals of art. Her elegant dress suggests that she is in fact Venetian and enables the painting’s conventional title.

The young woman is shown in a three-quarter profile looking out of the field to our left. Her gracefully trained reddish hair shines from a background of perfect black. In Dürer’s distinctive fashion, the subtle strands of that hair gleam in areas where light from the left has touched them. The hanging lock on the left, caught in contrast to the black base and with a contour of white light, is easily this portrait’s finest passage.

The woman is wearing an elegant dress with tied-on sleeves. The scarlet and orange hues have clearly declined through the fall of pigment, but the immense harmony of colours created by the master is perfectly visible. The entirety of this figure, barring the black-and-white necklace and the possibly unfinished black ribbon, is played out in terms of orange and red, plus light effects.

This portrait appears to communicate, through the very softness of its palette, the influence of Venice and its dazzling natural colour. It also signals Dürer’s contact with Bellini, the greatest colourist of Venice.

What aided this painting’s identification with Albrecht Dürer was the historians’ knowledge of up to four portraits accomplished by the artist during his second Venetian visit.

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