Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Spruce tree (Picea abies). 1495-1500 Bodycolour and watercolour

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1497 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 293 millimetres
    • Width: 194 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    This striking study of a spruce tree is one of Dürer's finest watercolours. The lack of date or indication of any background makes it difficult to date, but it was probably made shortly after the artist's return to Nuremberg from the first journey that he made to Italy, at about the same time as 'Landscape with a Woodland Pool' (see Sl, 5218.167). Dürer's interest in landscape was primarily as a means of providing setting to his paintings and prints, and he used drawings such as this and his watercolours of alpine views for the backgrounds of, for example, the 'Feast of the Rose Garlands' of 1506 (Prague, National Gallery; Anzelewsky 93) and his 'Life of the Virgin' series of woodcuts. His practice of making studies from nature in watercolour and the use of extensive landscape backgrounds in his finished works played a part in the development of landscape as a subject in its own right by the Danube school artists, Albrecht Altdorfer with whom he worked in 1515 on the design of the massive woodcut of the Triumphal Arch (see E,5.1) and Wolf Huber ( c.1480/5 – 1553).

    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. 125: 'Lawrence Inventory, no. 20, case 4, drawer 5; Hausmann, Naumann's Archiv, pp. 40f., under nos. 161-4; Hausmann, p. 111, under nos. 138-41; Lippmann, part xxiii, p. 4, no. 221, repr.; Haendcke, p. 31; L. Klebs, Repertorium, xxx, 1907, p. 401; Conway, p. 9, no. 44; Pauli, p. 12, no. 246; BM Guide, 1928, p. 19, no. 181; Tietze, i, p. 49, no. 159, repr.; Flechsig, Dürer, ii, p. 138; Winkler, Dürer, i, p. 89, no. 121, repr.; Panofsky, ii, p. 133, no. 1389; Winkler, Leben, p. 88; Rowlands, Dürer, p. 6, no. 16; Koschatzky, no. 27, repr.; Strauss, i, p. 396, no. 1496/2, repr.; Schmidt-Vogt, ii, part 1, p. 346; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 66, no. 40, repr.'

    Further lit: G.Bartrum, 'Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy', exhibition catalogue, London, British Museum, 2002, no. 184

    For conservation reasons, prior permission is required to view this drawing in the Study Room. Please contact


  • Bibliography

    • Winkler 1936-9 121 bibliographic details
    • Rowlands 1993 125 bibliographic details
    • Strauss 1974 1496/2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (German Roy XVIc)

  • Exhibition history

    1971 BM, Dürer no.16 1988 July-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 40 1979 BM, Flowers in art from East and West, S8. 2002/3 Dec-March, BM, Dürer and his Legacy, no. 184
    2012/13 Dec-March, Sheffield Museums, Force of Nature

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    This drawing was kept in Hans Sloane's "Dürer" Album upon acquisition (on the same sheet as SL,5218.167) and was later lifted to be mounted.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Spruce tree (Picea abies). 1495-1500 Bodycolour and watercolour

Spruce tree (Picea abies). 1495-1500 Bodycolour and watercolour

Image description



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Object reference number: PDO3390

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