Watercolor and gouache with touches of gold
Support: Cream(1) laid paper, laid down on cream(1) wove paper
Sheet: 29.2 x 16.9 cm (11 1/2 x 6 5/8 in.); Secondary Support: 29.2 x 16.9 cm (11 1/2 x 6 5/8 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1946.217
This realistic portrait of a dead bird signals a turn toward objective depictions of nature in the 1500s.
Half a century after the death of the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, his work continued to inspire artists and collectors. Hans Hoffmann was well known for his copies of Dürer’s nature studies, and in 1583 he faithfully copied Dürer’s celebrated drawing of a dead blue roller of 1512 in this exquisite watercolor. A network of very fine brushstrokes imitates the individual plumes of the bird’s underside while simultaneously suggesting an overall soft, downy texture. Several other copies of Dürer's composition exist, including one by Hoffmann in London. Both the London sheet and this sheet were signed with Hoffman’s prominent monogram and dated, indicating that he could not have intended them to pass as originals by the older master. Likely, he meant the drawing as an homage to the greatest German artist of the 1500s; his endeavor may have been sponsored by the Nuremberg-based Imhoff family, who owned Dürer's blue roller around the time this drawing was made.
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