- Museum number
Portrait of Friedrich II, Elector Palatine; head and shoulders in profile to left, with curly hair and a beard, wearing a chain with the Order of the Golden Fleece. 1523
Metalpoint, on prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 164 millimetres
Width: 117 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Summary of J. Rowlands 'Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German- speaking regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum: the Fifteenth Century, and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530', London, BM Press, 1993, no. 240:
'The identity of the sitter was first established by Peltzer, through the likeness of the Elector Palatine, Friedrich II, on a thaler issued with his image in 1522. According to Winkler, the rounded lower edge of the drawing indicates that it was either executed from the life or based on a representation of the sitter produced with a medal in mind. The first of these proposals is the more credible because quite apart from the keen observation of detail, it is quite evident that the coin was based on the present drawing. The discrepancy in the dates between that on the drawing and the coin appears to contradict this; however, this is explained by the fact that the date on the coin, 1522, commemorates Friedrich's office as 'Reichsstadthalter'. The Elector was in Nuremberg from 1521, with short breaks in the summer of 1523. He departed for Heidelberg on 27 September in that year, where he resided as the president of the 'Reichsregiment', the Imperial Council, while Archduke Ferdinand governed the Empire during the Emperor's absence in Spain. Several outstanding silverpoint portraits by Dürer of members of this council, besides the present drawing, have survived. They represent Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, Elector of Mainz, considered by many to be the finest of the group (Paris, Louvre; Winkler, 'Dürer', iv, pl. 896) and Duke Friedrich the Wise of Saxony (Paris, École des Beaux-Arts; Winkler, 'Dürer', iv, pl. 897), who was in Nuremberg from November 1522 until the beginning of February 1523. The Duke's court painter, Lucas Cranach the Elder, who evidently accompanied his master to Nuremberg, was likewise drawn in silverpoint by Dürer in 1524 (Bayonne, Musée Bonnat; Winkler, 'Dürer', iv, pl. 898), as was another so far unidentified person, probably a courtier, whose portrait in silverpoint is in the BM collection (SL,5218.22).
Sandrart saw what was perhaps a painted version of the present drawing, in Heidelberg (Sandrart, 'Teutsche Academie', p. 311) which he described as follows: "des Churfüsten Friderich des II Contrafät in ein Brustbild Lebensgrösse von Albrecht Dürer in Nürnberg 1522 mit grossen Fleiss in Oelfarbe, welches in Vollkommheit alle andere Conterfäte von dieses Meisters Hand übertrifft". '
Lit from Rowlands 1993: Lippmann, part xxiii, p. 17, no. 293, repr.; A. Peltzer, Albrecht Dürer und Friedrich II von der Pfalz, Strassburg, 1905, pp. 43ff.; Conway, p. 46, no. 864; Pauli, p. 41, no. 1155; BM Guide, 1928, p. 29, no. 282; Flechsig, Dürer, ii, p. 333; Tietze, iii, pp. 44f, no. 898, repr.; Winkler, Dürer, iv, p. 78, no. 903, repr.; Panofsky, ii, p. 106, no. 1022; Rowlands, Dürer, p. 44, no. 283; Strauss, iv, p. 2220, no. 1523/8, repr.; Mende, Dürer-Medaillen, pp. 70f., 201, under no. 26, repr.
This drawing was issued as a coloured facsimile by the British Museum in 'Reproductions of Drawings by Old Masters in the British Museum', Part I, Published by the Trustees, in 1888 where it was number XXIV(b) and described there as 'Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of John I., Elector of Saxony: Dated 1523.'
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1928 BM London, Guide Woodcuts, Drawings of A. Dürer, no. 282
1960, BM, Sloane Drawings, (no cat.)
1971, BM, Dürer, no.283
2000 Jan-May, Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle, Fifth Element
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: C,07.20