A lot of prints come up in auctions, particularly in bulk lots (multiple items in the one sale lot) and often they are all truly awful. But, because I love art, if I get the chance to be at an auction in person I will always flick through the frames to see what’s there. And sometimes you can find things that are really cool. Last week I came across two prints by Albrecht Durer (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce his name either) but when I saw them, they immediately grabbed my attention and it was only when I got home that it clicked as to why.
Some of you may remember that I have a woodblock print of a rhino that I have used in some of my photo’s. It is a print that I inherited from my grandmother and I have always loved it. Anyway, turns out that the rhino and the two prints that I saw in the auction are by the same artist. And this is why I love what I do, because that bit of digging in the back of an estate auction led me to two prints that encouraged me to find out more about this amazing artist.
So, Albrecht Durer is an artist who painted mainly in the early 1500’s. The rhino print he did in 1515 was based only on notes and a sketch from another artist, he never saw the animal in real life. But the reason the rhino image he created is so iconic and well known is the drawing he did (originally in pen and then made into a wood block print) was an exaggeration of the ‘fable’ of the animal. He drew it in such a way to increase the impact and presence of the rhino’s form to make it appear more impressive and to give it’s hide the effect of being like a suit of armour. This was unusual for the time when most art was only appreciated for its adherence to reality.
The prints that I bought last week were from his earlier work and are in a more traditional style. ‘A Young Hare’ which he painted in 1502 was a watercolour and gouche and was likely done from a stuffed form as opposed to a live animal (cue my love of taxidermy!) and is particularly recognised for its detailed likeness, and individual features including whiskers and the reflection of a window in the hare’s eye. The other print is of two squirrels titled ‘Two Squirrels, One Eating a Hazelnut’ and it was painted in 1512, but there is less known about this painting.
Anyway, I appreciate it’s a Friday night before a long weekend and the prospect of getting the bubbles into your glass is likely a far more exciting prospect than my discovery of some dusty prints, but I love art and I love realism and I love thinking about the fact that these images were created over 400 years ago by some crazy dude with a name I can’t pronounce. So, I suppose cheers to that?