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Lancer on Horseback

Artist: Albrecht Dürer
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(Nuremberg 1471 – 1528 Nuremberg)

Date: 1502
Medium: pen, dark brown ink on paper
Dimensions: 272 × 215 mm
Classification: drawing
Inventory Number: 75
Department: Prints and Drawings

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Lancer on Horseback

Albrecht Dürer was the leading painter and graphic artist of the German Renaissance who introduced the ideas and inventions of the Italian Renaissance into northern Europe. His woodcuts and engravings, the most influential of his works, soon became universally known and admired. Throughout his life Dürer was preoccupied with art theory and wrote treatises on a number of subjects such as geometry, military fortifications and the proportions of the human body. A series of drawings reveal Dürer’s passionate interest in the problem of the structure and proportions of the horses and the possibilities of representing their movement. This drawing shows a horse in the midst of a dynamic stride, with two of its legs raised in the air, ridden by a soldier with a lance in his right hand. Although accepted as Dürer’s original work by most scholars, the elongated body of the animal and its relatively small head indicated a debate regarding the attribution of the design. However, the harmonious proportions of the rider reflecting Renaissance ideals as well as the persuasive depiction of the horse‘s tense musculature suggest that even if it is not by Dürer’s own hand, the drawing must originate from his immediate circle, perhaps made by a member of his workshop, using Dürer’s various representations of riders as models. The date 1502 and Dürer’s famous AD monogram is written in the brown ink used for the drawing which shows that they were not later additions but are contemporary to the design.

Szilvia Bodnár