- Museum number
Two studies of a nude woman holding a mirror; whole-length, standing with left hand across her thigh and holding a mirror in her right hand
Silverpoint over blind stylus, strengthened with pen and brown ink, on white prepared paper
- Production date
- 1580 (circa)
Height: 336 millimetres
Width: 221 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The model, possibly a statue, is observed from two different angles. She holds a mirror, and may therefore have been intended as an allegorical representation of Prudence. The authorship of this sheet has long been debated. Attributed to Dürer when it entered the museum in 1895 (see also Robinson's catalogue of the Malcolm collection, no.526), it was first given to Jacob de Gheyn by Parker in 1928 (and supported by Byam Shaw) an attribution that was maintained in the exhibition of the Malcolm collection in 1996; but detailed studies of various metalpoint drawings made in connection with the exhibitions of 2015 makes this attribution unlikely: Jacob de Gheyn's small intricately detailed silverpoint drawings are stylistically quite different to the scale of this figure. In 1972, the drawing was attributed to Lucas van Leyden by Rowlands, which was in turn soon rejected by Wouter Kloek. Karel Boon discussed the drawing in his catalogue entry on a similar nude study, now at the Fondation Custodia in Paris: the similar parallel curved hatching of the thighs in both drawings as inspired by Lucas van Leyden's technique. Fritz Koreny suggested in July 2014 that it is more likely to be done by an artist within the sphere of influence of the Wierix brothers. The loosely sketched lower limbs combined with the confident, supremely detailed hatching of the lower back of the figure on the right, give the impression of a study made for the purpose of practise. Such detail is reminiscent of engravers such as the Wierix brothers who closely studied Dürer’s engraving technique during the late sixteenth century; and it seems most likely that the drawing was made within the sphere of influence of this Netherlandish family in about 1580. Joshua Reynolds, who owned the drawing, repeated this figure for a depiction of Prudence in his stained glass design for the window of New College, Oxford.
Literature: 'Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden', exh.cat. Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1869, cat.no.10; K.T. Parker, 'Guide to the Woodcuts, Drawings and Engraving of Albrecht Dürer', Oxford, 1928, p.32, no.297 (as Jacob de Gheyn); J. Byam Shaw, 'Jacob de Gheyn (1565-1629)', in Old Master Drawings 5 (1930), pp.56-57 (as Jacob de Gheyn); I.Q. van Regteren Altena, "The Drawings of Jacques de Gheyn, Amsterdam, 1935, 98, note 1 (as Dürer); J. Rowlands, 'A silverpoint nude study by Lucas van Leyden', in Master Drawings 10 (1972), pp.284-286 (as Lucas van Leyden); W. Kloek, 'The Drawings of Lucas van Leyden', in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 29 (1978), p.456, no.k (rejected as Lucas van Leyden); I.Q. van Regteren Altena, 'Jacques de Gheyn, Three Generations', 1983, p.82, fig.65 (attributed to Lucas van Leyden); K.G. Boon, 'The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris, 1992, under cat.no.83, pp.151-153; M. Royalton-Kisch, H. Chapman and S. Coppel, 'Old Master Drawings from the Malcolm Collection', exh.cat. The British Museum, London, 1996, pp.148-149, cat.no.77 (as De Gheyn); Giulia Bartrum in Stacey Sell and Hugo Chapman, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns', Princeton and Oxford, 2015 p. 73, pl. 34 (circle of the Wierix brothers); Joanna Russell, Judith Rayner and Jenny Bescoby, ' Northern European Metalpoint Drawings: technical examination and analysis', London, 2016, p. 83.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1971, BM, Dürer no.316
1973, BM, Netherlandish prints and drawings (no cat.)
1978, BM, Gainsborough and Reynolds in the BM, no 269
1996-7 Sept-Jan, BM, Malcolm Collection, no. 77
2015 May-Jul, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
2015 10 Sep-6 Dec, London, British Museum, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number