- Museum number
Head of a suffering man; head and shoulders to half-right, eyes closed, with tight, curly beard and wearing a turban. 1503
- Production date
Height: 310 millimetres
Width: 221 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dürer's inscription on the drawing, 'Head of the Dead Christ' (Sl, 5218.29) which apparently associates it with this sheet implies that they were executed at the same time when the artist was suffering from an illness. Both drawings have suffered from exposure in a frame at some point prior to 1637, when they were placed in the album in which they were acquired by Hans Sloane (see 'Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy', p. 8). This suggests that they were displayed together at an early date. In contrast to his sophisticated use of the engraver's burin, Dürer shows here the extent to which he has mastered the dense and crumbly technique of charcoal to exploit its dramatic potential. Writers have frequently commented on the expressive qualities of this drawing: Winkler called it one of the earliest and most grandiose representations of suffering in Dürer 's works, and Panofsky (vol.I, p.90) claimed that this figure with 'his features distorted with pain and his mouth half open in a stifled groan' reflected the atmosphere of an epidemic disease which had probably broken out in parts of Germany by 1503, although it did not reach its height in Nuremberg until the summer of 1505, and from which Dürer himself may also have been suffering. The two drawings can be associated with an impressive group of charcoal portraits produced in 1503 (Winkler, ‘Dürer’, ii, pls. 269-75).
Lit from 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. 153: Hausmann, Naumann's Archiv, p. 36, no. 30; Hausmann, p. 107, no. 30; Thausing, i, p. 321; Lippmann, part xxiii, p. 5, no. 230, repr.; Conway, p. 18, no. 250; Pauli, p. 12, no. 262; BM Guide, 1928, p. 22, no. 207; Tietze, i, p. 67, no. 226, repr.; Flechsig, Dürer, ii, p. 324; Winkler, Dürer, ii, p. 8, no. 271, repr.; Panofsky, ii, p. 114, no. 1120; Winkler, Leben, p. 168; Rowlands, Dürer, p. 17, no. 92; Anzelewsky, Dürer, pp. 174, 180; Strauss,ii, p. 686, no. 1503/17, repr.; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 75, no. 49, repr.
Further lit: G.Bartrum, 'Dürer and his Legacy', exh.cat. London, BM, 2002, no. 81; S. Meurer in 'Dürer e l'Italia', exh.cat. Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 2007, no. I.4; D.Hess and T.Eser (ed) 'Der frühe Dürer', exhibition catalogue, Nuremberg Germanisches Nationalmusuem, 2012, p.532, no 190
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1928 BM London, Guide Woodcuts, Drawings of A. Dürer, no. 207
1971 BM, Dürer no.92
1988 Jul-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 49
2002/3 Dec-Mar, BM, Dürer and his Legacy, no. 81
2007 Mar-Jun, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 'Dürer and Italy'
2012 23 May- 2 Sept, Nuremberg, Germ. Nationalmuseum, Early Dürer
2019-2020 20 Sep-6 Jan, Vienna, Albertina, Albrecht Dürer
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: C,07.30