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Albrecht Dürer (1471 -1528)

Dürer is the greatest painter Germany has produced and the greatest engraver the world has ever seen.  He was also an extraordinary watercolorist.  He painted and engraved the way Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzed. No detail was insignificant. Every tiny thing had to be brought to the fore and prominently exposed.

Large Turf, detail

Detail from self-portrait at the age of 28

Knight, Death and the Devil

Virgin With The Child Holding A Half Pear

With Dürer nothing is blurred or merely suggested. To the contrary he worked with an entomologist's meticulous concern for accurate and precise description.

At the same time he incorporated the Italian renditions of mass and volume and their sustaining foundation; the knowledge of anatomy and of the inner workings of the human body. Then, he rigorously subjected his compositions to the rules of perspective.

The end result is a fusion of the linearity of the Northern school with the Italian illusionism of a third dimension.

St. Anne, detail

Like some other great artists, Dürer was precocious. He executed this superb self-portrait in silverpoint when he was only 13. It is his earliest surviving work.

Self portrait at the age of 13, silverpoint, 1484

Is it possible today that a new unknown Dürer would be discovered? Yes, but it would either be a painting, a drawing or a watercolor.

It is nearly impossible that it would be a woodcut or an engraving. We know all of them through his writings and the books he illustrated.

What happens periodically though, is that someone discovers an authentic Dürer print from the days of the early editions. These are not new in subject, they are just additional copies of his known prints. Nevertheless they are quite valuable.

But a drawing or a watercolor could go unnoticed for a long time, as being his work, if it did not represent one his well known and most popular subjects.

Here are three examples:

Vision Of A Cloud Burst, 1525

Church Of St. John, 1489

The Willow Mill, 1496

If it would not be for the signature, and some might not be signed, most art dealers and museum curators would never recognize Dürer here either:

Three Mighty Ladies Of Livonia, 1521

A good candidate for a new painting discovery might be an unfinished and unsigned work such as this one:

Old Woman With A Bag of Coins, unfinished, c.1507

A new discovery could also be of a duplicate that has been quickly rejected as a copy, when in fact it is an original.

We have two of this portrait and both are considered authentic Dürer originals:

Young Woman With Bound Hair, 1497
One of a pair of virtually identical originals

There are other possibilities yet, but to mention just one more, an unknown Dürer could be something so weird, that almost no art professionals would even think of the German master:

Boy With A Long Beard, 1527