Albrecht Dürer, Head of the dead Christ, a drawing

Germany, signed and dated AD 1503

This dramatic drawing of the dead Christ is made in charcoal. Christ's head is tilted back, his eyes are closed and his mouth open wide. One half of his face lies in shadow, the soft charcoal rubbed carefully into the paper. Above, the Crown of Thorns ferociously pierces his forehead. The long spikes of the thorns contrast strongly with the long curls of his hair which trail, limply down his shoulder. The small, loose curls of his beard stand out against the white of the paper. The strong neck is deeply shadowed. However, the line of the shoulders is barely indicated.

The text, written by the artist, records that the artist made 'two faces' when he was ill in that year. This drawing may be a companion to another in The British Museum which shows a suffering man. The two drawings of male suffering may reflect the artist's state of mind during his own illness.

Although a work of art in its own right, this drawing may have been made in connection with a print or painting. However, no such finished work is known.

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More information


J. Rowlands with G. Bartrum, The age of Dürer and Holbein: (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)

J. Rowlands and G. Bartrum, Drawings by German artists in, 2 vols. (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

J.C. Hutchison, Albrecht Dürer: a biography (Princeton University Press, 1990)

E. Panofsky, Life and art of Albrecht Dürer, 4th ed. (Princeton University Press, 1955)


Height: 310.000 mm
Width: 221.000 mm

Museum number

PD SL 5218-29



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