The Albertina museum once brought out Dürer’s Young Hare for seven hours as part of the Long Night of Museums. The queue went through the building, out the front door, down the steps outside, and into the Vienna night. Thankfully, the painting makes another (longer) appearance in a rare Dürer exhibition.
- Most comprehensive Dürer exhibition for decades
- Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see his works like this
- The 1502 Young Hare was last exhibited in 2014
- Open daily, Sept 20, 2019 to Jan 6, 2020
- Just needs a normal entry ticket for the Albertina
- Fast-track tickets* available (useful, because expect long queues at times, especially around Xmas)
- All display text also available in English
- See also:
Dürer in Vienna
I still recall the buzz of excitement that faded to a respectful hush as we reached the end of that queue.
There is something out-of-the-ordinary in seeing a watercolour of such detail over 500 years after its completion in a Nuremberg workshop. Especially when the work in question only makes a public appearance every five years or so.
Fortunately for us, the buzz returns with the Albertina’s new Dürer exhibition, curated by Christof Metzger. It draws on the museum’s world-leading collection of Dürer’s works, supplemented by loans from the likes of Italy’s Uffizi or Spain’s Prado museums.
As soon as you walk through the doors to spy your first Dürer, you know you are in the presence of genius. An aura of reverence strikes you, as if it is a special privilege simply to be allowed to gaze upon such professional skill. It all begins, perhaps, with 1484’s Self-portrait at the age of 13. Thirteen!
That “child’s drawing” is just one example of how the Albertina’s collection of masterful Dürer pieces extends well beyond the Young Hare.
For example, you’ll discover cityscapes, Bacchanalian scenes, other portraits, and more, including the pen-and-ink Praying hands from 1508, the Wing of a European Roller watercolour, and the 1503 Great Piece of Turf (clearly creative inspiration didn’t extend to naming his paintings).
Three of the above – the hare, turf, and wing – hang next to each other to form a glorious triumvirate of precision. And, yet, within the wider exhibition, you soon realise that these are not exceptions to the norm, but merely the pinnacle of a wider body of breathtaking art by Dürer.
(Dürer’s famous rhinocerous, drawn without ever actually seeing one in the flesh. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Further highlights include:
- Dürer’s studies of hands, feet, heads, etc. for the Heller altarpiece constructed 1507-1509
- The iconic 1515 rhinocerous woodcut
- The astonishing detail within the 3.5m high triumphal arch of Emperor Maximilian I from 1515 (the version shown is from the much later 3rd edition, which is only a mere 460 years old)
- The 1518 “rough” chalk portrait of the same Emperor taken during the Diet of Augsburg. Imagine the scenario – Dürer grabbing a quick few minutes with Maximilian. Meanwhile, the business of the Holy Roman Empire continues less than a year after Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses and set in motion the Reformation.
This is goosebump art of the highest calibre.
Over 200 pieces make up the exhibition in total, including 100 drawings, 12 paintings, and various rare documents. Plenty of biographical details enhance the presentation.
The result is the first such comprehensive exhibition of Dürer’s works for many a year and might readily be considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to Vienna.
Dates and tickets
The Dürer exhibition runs from Friday, 20th September 2019 to Monday, 6th January 2020.
This exhibition has proved extremely popular, so it’s probably best to get there early in the day and to buy tickets in advance (so you’re immune to the ticket counter queues that such an event inevitably causes).
Once inside, be sure to save some time for exploring the palace rooms and the other exhibitions after you’ve feasted on the Dürers, particularly the excellent Batliner collection with its Picassos, Monets, and more.
How to get to the Dürer exhibition
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna