Height: 200.000 mm
Width: 144.000 mm
Height: 200.000 mm (relief)
Width: 144.000 mm
Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight
Bequeathed by Joseph Nollekens, subject to a life interest to Francis Douce (Dürer)
M&ME 1824,4-29,85 (relief);PD E.2-188 (Dürer woodcut)
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Georg Schweigger, The Birth and Naming of John the Baptist, a honestone relief
Nuremberg, Germany, AD 1642
A homage to Albrecht Dürer
This plaque is superbly carved in high relief in Solnhofen stone ('honestone'). It is carved on the front with the monogram of Albrecht Dürer ('AD') and dated 1510 (bottom left, behind the dog). Indeed, it was bequeathed to the British Museum as an outstanding work by the German artist. Dürer was greatly acclaimed in his lifetime, and there followed in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries a revival of interest in him. The wide availability of many of Dürer's original drawings led to his works being copied in a number of different materials. Many of these copies were intended to deceive; others were made as clever pastiches in direct homage to the master. The signature of Georg Schweigger of Nuremburg and date on the back of the small detachable panel, only recently discovered, indicate this plaque falls into the latter category. The continuing admiration of Dürer as an artist is shown by the fact that this plaque was itself copied in ivory by Richard Cockle Lucas (1800-83) in 1845.
Schweigger is known to have carved several outstanding pieces based on Dürer's prints. This plaque is based on the woodcut Death of the Virgin, dated 1510, although the composition is not exactly the same.
M. Jones (ed.), Fake?: the art of deception, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
G. Bartrum (ed.), Albrecht Dürer and his legacy: (London and N.J., The British Museum Press and Princeton University Press, 2002)