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Painting in Vienna sheds new light on the life of Dürer

A painting discovered in Vienna can change the way art historians have looked at the life and career of Northern Renaissance artist Dürer.

The news, which was first published in Art newspaper, pertains to a certain painting found buried beneath dirt and time in St. Stephen’s Cathedral of Vienna. Early investigations revealed that the painting was made in 1505. What’s more interesting, however, was the underdrawing – which revealed the creator to be none other than Albrecht Dürer.

Why is this revelation important? Most historians have believed that the famed face of Northern Renaissance lived most of his life in Germany. Any visit to Vienna was certainly not recorded. Not just that, but art historians have only found one wall painting made by Dürer – the work in Nuremberg town hall. However, that work (created in 1521) was destroyed in WWII bombings. 

The work was first discovered months ago, though a lack of early conclusions suppressed the news. In November, a meeting of experts was convened to carry detailed investigation. It was soon concluded that the painting was definitely made by someone from Dürer’s circle. The dating brought it somewhere in the 1510s. Another important conclusion was that even though Dürer might have begun the work, it was finished later on by his assistants. This was made apparent from the change in style and drop in quality, as the assistants weren’t able to match Dürer’s genius.

The work is in the form of a triptych, portraying three saints. St. Catherin and St. Margaret are on either side of the work. At the centre stands St. Leopold III, who also happens to be a patron saint of Austria. The results of the thorough investigation would be published in the form of a paper later this year. However, according to Erwin Pokorny (one of the experts on the team), the question that remains now is just when exactly Dürer visited Vienna.