Height: 338.000 mm
Width: 258.000 mm
Gift of William Mitchell
Prints and Drawings
Albrecht Dürer, Dürer's coat of arms, a woodcut
Dürer's arms were adopted from those of his father, the goldsmith Albrecht Dürer the Elder (1427-1502) seen on the back of Dürer's portrait of him (1490, Uffizi, Florence). The main emblem of an open door, Tür, is a literal interpretation of the family name, which was taken from his father's birthplace in Hungary, Ajtós, meaning door. The eagles' wings and the bust of a black man are emblems often seen in south German heraldry and were used by the Nuremberg family of Dürer's mother, Barbara Holper.
The great majority of printed coats of arms to have survived from this period are small bookplates. This example belongs to a recognizable category of larger versions, which have survived in fewer numbers and had a more hard-wearing function. It is possible that Dürer used it like a large label, to identify property or belongings while he travelled.
G. Bartrum (ed.), Albrecht Dürer and his legacy: (London and N.J., The British Museum Press and Princeton University Press, 2002)