- Museum number
An elk, formerly in an album originally containing 167 drawings of quadrupeds; standing in profile to left
Pen and brush and black ink, with watercolour
Verso: European bison; standing in profile to left, looking to front
Pen and black ink
- Production date
- 1501-1504 (circa)
Height: 213 millimetres
Width: 260 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- It is likely that this drawing of an elk (Alces alces, known in America as a moose) was made after a preserved specimen rather than a live animal. It possesses a somewhat stiff and lifeless appearance compared to the rapid sketch of the European bison (wisent) on the verso of the sheet. The elk is seen in reverse in the wooded background of Dürer's engraving, 'Adam and Eve' of 1504 (Hollstein 1). Flechsig considered that the manner in which Dürer has written 'Heilennt' on the sheet is close to his writing on drawings of about 1500. Winkler noted an historical circumstance that may have relevance: King Maximilian, later Emperor, visited Nuremberg from 13 to 21 April 1501, when, according to the chronicler Heinrich Deichsler (1430-1506/7), he was presented with five aurochsen as a parting gift (Deichsler, p. 643, under 21 April, "Item man schenkt dem kunig 5 aurerochsen, heten ein fremde gestalt"). The drawing on the verso was possibly made in connection with this occasion; for although both the wisent and the aurochs are extinct today, according to Johns it was not uncommon for the two types of wild cattle to be confused even when they were both extant. The European bison appears later in a more finished form drawn in green ink in Dürer's marginalia to the 'Prayerbook' of Maximilian of 1515 (Munich, Staatsbibliothek; Strauss, 1515/20).
For a description of the album from the collection of Hans Sloane to which this sheet belongs, see SL,5261.1.
From album SL,5261.1 to 167.
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. 160: H. David, Prussian Jahrbuch, xxxiii, 1912, pp. 23ff., repr.; Lippmann, vi, p. 14, nos. 641-2, repr.; BM Guide, 1928, p. 19, no. 173; Tietze, i, pp. 75-76, nos. 253-4, repr.; Flechsig, Dürer, ii, p. 114; Winkler, Dürer, i, p. 168, nos. 242-3, repr.; Panofsky, ii, pp. 128f, nos. 1319, 1305; Winkler, Leben, p. 164, n. 1; Rowlands, Dürer, pp. 8f., no. 98; Strauss, ii, pp. 568ff., nos. 1501/1 and 2, repr.; Koreny, Tier- und Pflanzenstudien, p. 22, repr.; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 80, no. 52, repr. recto.
Additional lit: R. Schoch in 'Albrecht Dürer. Das druckgraphische Werk' Band I, 'Kupferstiche, Eisenradierungen und Kaltnadelblätter' Munich, 2001, p.112, under no. 39; G.Bartrum, 'Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy', exhibition catalogue, London, British Museum, 2002, no. 94; C.Johns, 'Cattle: History, Myth, Art', London, 2011, p. 107
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1928 BM London, Guide Woodcuts, Drawings of A. Dürer, no. 173
1971 BM, Dürer no.98
1988 July-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 52
2002/3 Dec-March, BM, Dürer and his Legacy, no. 94
2012 April-Sep, London, National Gallery, Titian's First Masterpiece (verso)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Transferred to Prints & Drawings, 17 November 1886 (see note on fly-leaf). Transferred from the Department of Manuscripts.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number