Celebrating Albrecht Dürer’s travels

Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist is a new exhibition at the National Gallery which opened last month and runs until the end of February. It allows us to gain an insight into the artist’s travels across Europe and his encounters with other artists and patrons. On show are paintings, drawings and prints as well as written documents, many of them on loan from museums and private collections around the world.

The exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum in Aachen which hosted a different version of the exhibition earlier this year, concentrating on just one year-long trip around the Low Countries. The Aachen exhibition was originally intended to open in autumn 2020, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Dürer visiting Aachen for the coronation of Charles V. We know so much about Dürer’s time in the Low Countries because he kept a detailed journal, and while only page fragments remain of the original journal (loaned to the exhibition by the British Library), two transcriptions survive.

With travelling exhibitions our preferred policy would normally be to acquire the English language version of the exhibition catalogue. The catalogue to accompany the National Gallery exhibition has not arrived yet but we would expect to receive it via Legal Deposit. However, in this instance we have also bought the German language catalogue – Dürer war hier: eine Reise wird Legende (S950.a.202.300) and with good reason. Although the German leg of the exhibition took a narrower, more in-depth focus, the accompanying catalogue is a hefty 600+ page book with many beautifully reproduced illustrations and more than 20 essays. In contrast, the English catalogue is less than half the length, while still being a significant 300+ pages.

If you are interested in finding out more about Dürer’s accounts of his travels in both the Low Countries and Venice, you can find relevant books here.

Katharine Dicks

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