Apr 28, 2022 - Sale 2602

Sale 2602 - Lot 16

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 70,000 - $ 100,000
The Nemesis.

Engraving, circa 1501-02. 327x231 mm; 13x9 1/4 inches. A superb, dark, richly-inked and early Meder II a impression, with the short vertical scratch under the center of the bridge, with burr in the heavily shaded parts of the mountains, notably at the right, with the delicate horizontal scratch between the drapery and the upper left thigh, with several delicate scratches in the upper feathers, with particularly strong contrasts and no sign of wear, consistent with the earliest lifetime impressions in this state. Partial bull's head (?) watermark at the extreme lower edge of the sheet (Meder 62, which he dates from the mid to late 1400s). Trimmed on the plate mark. An extremely scarce impression in this quality, with the wings black and great clarity in the landscape, with every detail distinct.

The early 1500s was a period of dramatic growth in Dürer's (1471-1528) career and the fuller recognition of Italianate influence in his art. His workshop expanded with his increasing popularity, enhanced significantly by the wide-scale distribution of his engravings and woodcuts throughout Europe, with the addition of three young artists: Hans Baldung Grien (1480-1545), Hans van Kulmbach (circa 1485-1522) and Hans Schäufelein (circa 1482-1539/40). Dürer was preoccupied with a focus on the construction and proportion of the human figure at this time too, doubtlessly on account of his knowledge of Italian Renaissance art and recent travel to northern Italy, creating numerous drawings of standing female nudes and two of his most important engravings on the subject, The Nemesis and Adam and Eve, 1504.

According to Bartrum, there is a preparatory ink drawing for The Nemesis, now at the British Museum, London, which, "Is the earliest occasion that a proportionately constructed figure appears in one of his prints . . . The drawing also shows that Dürer originally planned a smaller, different type of wing, with the tips hanging down," (Bartrum, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, London, 2002, page 73). A separate study of wings on the same sheet shows how he ultimately intended to make them on the engraving, larger and much more intricately detailed. Dürer's handling of the figure of The Nemesis or Fortune was striking and revolutionary for its time, starkly silhouetted against the blank white background of the sheet of paper and floating ethereally along a drapery-like cloud lining above a minutely detailed landscape.

Bartrum notes that the subject, "Comes from the Latin poem Manto (Mantua) written by the Italian poet and philosopher Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494) and printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice in 1498. Dürer probably became acquainted with it through Pirckheimer (the humanist and Nuremberg friend of the artist). Nemesis, the classical god of retribution, whose goblet and bridle represent reward and castigation, is combined with the traditional winged figure of Fortune standing on a globe. The landscape beneath has been identified as a view of Chiusa in the southern Tyrol (Alto Adige), of which Dürer had presumably made a drawing during his journey to Italy in 1494-95, although no record survives," (Bartrum, page 140). Bartsch 77; Meder 72.