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Lot 36: ALBRECHT DÜRER Ulrich Varnbüler.
03 November 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Chiaroscuro woodcut printed in ochre, brown and black on cream laid paper, 1522. 430x325 mm; 17x12 7/8 inches, thread margins. A superb, well-inked Meder IIIa impression with strong colors. Crescent watermark (Meder 258). Ex-collection Cabinet Brentano-Birckenstock, Vienna and Frankfurt (Lugt 345, verso); and Alfred Morrison (1821-1897), London and Fonthill (Lugt 151, verso, this impression cited by Lugt; Morrison''s sale at Sotheby''s, London, July 11-14, 1906, sould for 49 pounds).
The original, extremely scarce lifetime impressions were printed in black from the line block. It was only in the early 1600s that there was a resurgence of attention paid to Dürer''s work and the chiaroscuro blocks were created partly to mask wear to the original line block. Both this portait of Varnbüler and Dürer''s famous woodcut The Rhinocerous, 1515, were printed as chiaroscuro woodcuts by the Amsterdam publisher Willem Janssen; his name and address appear below the borderline in the Varnbüler portrait.
The drawing for which Dürer based this woodcut is in the collection of the Albertina, Vienna. Around the early 1520s, Dürer completed several portraits with the intent of producing woodcuts, though only two subjects were realized: Ulrich Varnbüler and Emperor Maximilian I. Both woodcuts are extremely scarce; we have found approximately only 11 impressions of each at auction in the past 30 years.
Strauss records only 11 chiaroscuro impressions of this woodcut in museum collections, including an example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. We locate only one impression with chiaroscuro at auction in the past 30 years. Bartsch 155; Meder 256.