Albrecht Dürer’s Material World at The Whitworth

Albrecht Dürer’s Material World
The Whitworth
30th June 2023 – 10th March 2024

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The Sudarium Held by two Angels, 1513. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo: Michael Pollard.

The exhibition offers a new perspective on Dürer as an intense observer of the worlds of manufacture, design, and trade that fill his graphic art. Woodcuts, etchings, and engravings, from the Whitworth’s collection, are juxtaposed with a range of objects from Dürer’s time, including armour and tableware, books and scientific instruments, textiles, and exotic artefacts. The exhibition highlights the ingenuity and skill with which Dürer, a leading figure of Europe’s print revolution, represented his material world.

You are invited to enter three themed spaces of creation and creativity in Renaissance Nuremberg: the home, the workshop, and the scholar’s study. Artworks and objects in these three rooms expose understudied aspects of Dürer’s art and practice, including his attentive study of objects of daily domestic use, his involvement in economies of local manufacture and exchange, and the microarchitectures of local craft. And, finally, we focus on the attention Dürer paid to the furnishings and artefacts tied to cultures of natural and philosophical inquiry and learning.

This exhibition’s novel approach reconsiders how a changing Renaissance material world, characterised by increasing globalisation, sparked artistic creativity and major innovations in the production of art and craft in Dürer’s native Nuremberg and beyond. The show also takes a fresh look at the history of collecting Dürer’s art in the northwest of England, and the role those local collectors – many themselves involved in trade, industry, and design – played in amassing one of the country’s most significant holdings of this Renaissance artist’s graphic work.

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