- Museum number
Design for a shoe, seen from above, with the back of the shoe, seen from the side. 1522-8
Pen and black ink
- Production date
Height: 271 millimetres
Width: 111 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. 247:
It is apparent from his self-portraits that Dürer set great store by his personal appearance and was very fastidious in his dress, a reflection, perhaps, of his social pretensions and of his keen desire to enhance his status as an artist. Thus it is not surprising to find among his late drawings this sketch for a shoe to be ordered from his shoemaker. The design has been kept with a pattern for the sole (Sl,5218.199) which would have served as an exact guide for the craftsman. The pattern shows that Dürer's foot was 27.3 cm long, which gives a modern German shoe size of between size 40 and 41. By present-day standards, this is a small shoe, but compared with other men's shoes of the early sixteenth century it is relatively large. To demonstrate that it would have been possible to produce these shoes for the artist on the basis of his drawing and the pattern, the Deutsche Schuhmuseum, Offenbach-am-Main, in 1974 commissioned Friedhelm Trost, an orthopaedic master shoemaker to undertake a pair of shoes working from Dürer's guides. The result is now in that Museum. It was found that to fulfil Dürer's wishes, in securing the uppers over the last, changes had to be made to the drawing after the initial stage of the work. This was so that in the finished shoe the front piece could be eased over the front rim of the sole. This necessary adjustment is recorded on Dürer's drawing, certainly by the artist himself. The direction of the line of the blind-pressed pattern is changed near the rim on either side of the toe-cap, at the level of the third line of the uppermost inscription. There is preserved in the Museum at Offenbach most of an original shoe of the same type as that ordered by Dürer, which has been dated c. 1530. From its characteristic high-backed heel it is called a 'Hornschuh'. Representations of this type hardly occur in Dürer's work before the end of his career, when this mode first came into fashion; they are seen, for example, worn by the figure, probably of Lazarus Spengler, in his drawing 'Christian bearing his cross' SL,5218.150). There is general agreement amongst scholars that this drawing should be dated c. 1525/6; most recently Ashcroft dates it to c. 1526. The artist' s use on the pattern for the sole (SL,5218.199) of the same shade of brown wash, which he used for studies of the heads of the apostles (Winkler, 'Dürer', iv, pls. 870-3) made in preparation for his diptych 'The four apostles', dated 1526, in Munich, Alte Pinakothek (Anzelewsky, 'Dürer', pl. 185) gives a certain corroborative support.
Watermark: crowned letter L within a crowned shield, with a petal above and a letter b suspended below (similar to Piccard 28632, Frankfurt am Main, 1520). The same watermark is seen in R.252 and 253.
Lit from Rowlands 1993: Hausmann, Naumann's Archiv, p. 42, no. 200; Hausmann, p. 113, no. 163; Ephrussi, p. 210; Lippmann, part xxiii, p. 10, no. 256, repr.; Conway, p. 48, no. 894; Pauli, p. 43, no. 1213; BM Guide, 1928, p. 30, no. 292; Flechsig, Dürer, ii, pp. 327f.; Tietze, iii, p. 26, no. 948, repr.; Winkler, Dürer, iv, p. 100, no. 938, repr.; Panofsky, ii, p. 127, no. 1300; Rupprich, i, p. 210, no. 81; Rowlands, Dürer, p. 47, no. 306; Strauss, iv, p. 2342, no. 1526/24, repr.; G. Gall, Festschrift für Peter Wilhelm Meister, Hamburg, 1975, pp. 173ff.
Additional Lit: Jeffrey Ashcroft (ed) ' Albrecht Dürer documentary biography. Dürer's personal and aesthetic writings, words on pictures, family, legal and business documents; the artist in the writings of contemporaries' Translation and commentary, London / New Haven, 2017, vol II, p.822-4, no. 239
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1928 BM London, Guide Woodcuts, Drawings of A. Dürer, no. 292
1960, BM, Sloane Drawings, (no cat.)
1971, BM, Dürer, no.306
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: C,07.200