Albrecht Dürer’s Visit to the Netherlands in 1520 - 500th Anniversary of his Last Journey

by Clare Ford-Wille

Thursday 20 February 2020



In July 1520 Dürer embarked with his wife on a journey through the Netherlands. In Aachen, at the October 23 coronation of the emperor Charles V, successor to Maximilian I (who had died in 1519), Dürer met and presented several etchings to Matthias Grünewald, who stood second only to Dürer in contemporary German art. Dürer returned to Antwerp by way of Nijmegen and Cologne, remaining there until the summer of 1521. He had maintained close relations with the leaders of the Netherlands school of painting.


In December 1520 Dürer visited Zeeland and in April 1521 travelled to Bruges and Ghent, where he saw the works of the 15th-century Flemish masters Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hugo van der Goes, as well as the Michelangelo Madonna (c. 1501–04).


 Dürer’s sketchbook of the Netherlands journey contains immensely detailed and realistic drawings. Some paintings that were created either during the journey or about the same time seem spiritually akin to the Netherlands school—for example, the portrait of Anna Selbdritt, a half-length picture of St. Jerome (1521) (below), and the small portrait of Bernhard von Resten, previously Bernard van Orley.



Clare Ford-Wille is an independent art historian, well known to members for her courses at Birkbeck and Morley College as well as a lecturer at the National Gallery, the V&A and The Arts Society groups in Britain and Europe. She has led many tours abroad. Clare is a Vice President of The London Art History Society.


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