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Portrait of a Man
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Nüremberg, 1471 - Nüremberg, 1528

Miniatura autor

Portrait of a Man

1521. Oil on panel, 50 x 36 cm.

This portrait is one of Dürer’s great creations. It offers a three-quarters view of an unidentified person who occupies most of the canvas. Dürer places him in front of a dark background that bears some touches of blue. The light enters from the left, bringing out the features of the face and hands and projecting the sitter’s shadow onto the background at the right, where the date and the painter’s monogram appear. A large hat brings out the model’s face, with an intense gaze and energetic character. The viewer’s eye is also drawn to the hands, and especially the rolled paper in the left hand, which undoubtedly expresses the model’s social circumstances.

The date is inscribed at the lower right of the painting and, while the last digit is difficult to identify, the work definitely corresponds to the painter’s final period. Although many authors prefer to read it as 1524, the canvas itself and the form in which its surface has been worked resemble portraits that Dürer made in the Netherlands through May 1521, or later that year after returning to Nuremberg. This typology -a half-length figure presented in a way that focuses attention on the face and hands- was employed by the artist in his first portraits, but abandoned in 1500. After that, he only returned to it in exceptional cases, such as his Portrait of Emperor Maximilian, from 1519 (Vienna, Kunsthistoriches Museum) or the portraits he made on his visit to Flanders in 1520-21, where it was very common among the local painters. From 1522, he made only bust portraits, which would make this likeness an exception if it were, in fact, painted in 1524. The same would be true of its surface work, which is very carefully rendered, with considerable attention to capturing the qualities of things. This reflects, and would appear to compete with, the work of Flemish painters -especially Quentin Massys-, which Dürer indeed did during his stay in the Netherlands. It is thus logical to suppose that he painted it in 1521, either in Flanders or in Nuremberg. The latter location is also suggested by the sitter’s sumptuous clothing, which is more in keeping with a German setting. Some authors have identified the model as councilman Hans Imhoff the Elder of Nuremberg, who died in 1522; treasurer Lornz Sterk, whose portrait hangs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; or Jobst Planfelt, the painter’s landlord in Antwerp. There is no real foundation for any of these suggestions, although all three are known to have been portrayed by Dürer.

This work is customarily associated with a portrait by Dürer that accompanied his self-portrait from 1498 in the collection of Charles I of England (Museo del Prado, P2179), both of which were gifts from the city of Nuremberg to the English monarch in 1632. However, the documentation of the latter works up to the time that they arrived in Spain mentions the self-portrait and a likeness of the painter’s father, supposedly the one from 1497, of which there is a replica at the National Gallery of London. That is what appears in the document of their purchase by politician Luis de Haro at the auction of Charles I’s property. De Haro gave the two works to Philip IV of Spain in 1654. The first clear reference to the present portrait as part of Spain’s Royal Collection is in the inventory of Charles III (1789-1790), where it is listed among the works hanging in Madrid’s royal Palace. From there, it entered the Museo del Prado in 1827 (Text drawn from Silva, P.: El Prado en el Ermitage, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 72-73).


Technical data

Related artworks

Museo del Prado, sala de la reina Isabel II
Gelatin / Collodion on photographic paper, Ca. 1899
Inventory number
Portrait of a Man
High/Height: 50 cm.; Width: 36 cm.
Royal Collection ([¿]Real Alcázar, Madrid, Pieça junto a la Galería del Çierço que mira al Parque, 1666, s.n.[?]; [¿]Real Alcázar, Madrid, Pieza que cae al Parque a la entrada de la Galeria del Çierzo, 1686, s.n.[?]; [¿]Real Alcázar, Pieza que cae al Parque a la entrada de la Galeria del Cierzo, 1701-1703, nº170[?]; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos, 1772, nº32; Palacio Nuevo, Primera Pieza de la Obra nueva, 1794, nº32; [¿]Palacio Real, Quarto del Infante Don Francisco-Primera pieza o cuarto del mayordomo mayor, 1814-1818, s.n.[?])

Bibliography +

Inventario de los cuadros del Marqués de Leganes., Boletin de la Sociedad española de excursiones, 5/6, 1898, pp. 125.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier y Beroqui, Pedro, Inventarios Reales en 12 Volumenes y Un Indice (Fotocopias) (procedencia/provenanace), 1923.

Bottineau, Yves, L'Alcázar de Madrid et l'inventaire de 1686. Aspects de la cour d'Espagne au XVIIe siècle (procedencia/provenance), Bulletin Hispanique, LX, 1958.

Brion, Marcel, Albrecht Dürer. His life and work, Thames and Hudson, Londres, 1960, pp. 285.

Anzelewsky, Fedja, Albrecht Durer. Das Malerische Werk, Deutscher Verlag Fur Kunstwissensch, Berlín, 1971.

Sporer, E.D. Schlottke, B. Hennig, L. et al., Albretch Durer 1471-1971., Prestel verlag, Munich, 1971.

Fernández Bayton, Gloria, Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II: 1701-1703 (procedencia/provenance), Museo del Prado: Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975.

Burke, Marcus B., Private Collections of Italian Art in Seventeenth Century Sp, I, University Microfilm International, Nueva York, 1984, pp. 118-119.

Campbell, Lorne, Renaissance Portraits. European Portrait Painting in the 14th, 15th, And 16th Centuries., Yale University Press, New Haven. Londres, 1990, pp. 17.

Museo Nacional del Prado, La almoneda del siglo: relaciones artísticas entre España y y Gran Bretaña: 1604-1655, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2002, pp. 252.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel, Martínez Cuesta, Juan y Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio: inventarios reales (procedencia/provenance), Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004.

Matilla, José Manuel, Durero: obras maestras de la Albertina, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 287.

Koreny, Fritz, Albrecht Dürer und die Niederlande. Einfluss und wirkung - Anmerkungen zu den künstlerischen wechselbezeihungen der reise., Actas del symposium: El siglo de Durero, Problemas historiográficos, 2008, pp. 333-344 [336].

Wolf, Norbert, Dürer, Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2010, pp. 270-271.

Borchert, Till-Holger (ed.), Van Eyck to Durer: early netherlandish painting and Central Europe, Van Eyck to Dürer, Lannoo, Brujas, 2010, pp. 427-429.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria y Rodrígez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666 : Felipe IV y su colección artística (procedencia/provenance), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Ediciones Polifemo, Madrid, 2015.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1666. Núm. [¿]s.n.[?].
PIEÇA JUNTO A LA GALERÍA DEL ÇIERÇO, QUE MIRA AL PARQUE [...] {608} Un retrato de un Filósofo, del mismo tamaño del de Alberto y del mismo autor, en cinquenta ducados de plata… 550.

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1686. Núm. [¿]s.n.[?].
[¿]Pieza que cae al Parque a la entrada de la Galería del Çierzo: “Un Retrato de un filosofo de tres quartas de alto, de mano de Alberto Durero”[?]

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. [¿]170[?].
[¿]Pieza que Cae al Parque a la Entrada de la Galeria del Cierzo: 170 / “Ytten Un retratto de Vn filosofo de tres quartas de Altto de mano de Albertto Durero tasado en dosçientos y Cinquentta Doblones… 250[?]

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 32.
Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos [...] {12815} 32 / Otro retrato de medio cuerpo con sombrero puesto y vn papel en la mano izquierda de dos tercias de alto y media vara escasa de ancho del mismo Alberto

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 32.
Primera Pieza de la Obra nueva [...] {256} 32 / Dos tercias de ancho y media vara de alto: retrato de un hombre con Sombrero puesto y un papel en la mano izquierda. Alberto Durero ... 2000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. ¿s. n.?.
Quarto del Infante Don Francisco / Primera pieza [...] {21878} igual [dos tercias alto media vara ancho] retrato desconocido con sombrero y un papel en la mano = Escuela de Alberto Durero [o] Cuarto del Mayordomo Mayor [...] {21118} tabla retrato del natural medio cuerpo de vn hombre de mayor edad vestido o de negro con vn gorro en la cabeza y un papel arrollado en la mano = Durero

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 992.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 992.
Durero. / 992. Retrato de un hombre. / Representa unos 50 años de edad; Lleva ropón oscuro con pieles del mismo color, y sombrero de ala ancha. En la mano izquierda tiene un papel. (Tabla). / Alto 1 Pie, 9 Pulg, 6 Lin; Ancho 1 Pie, 3 Pulg, 6 Lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1317.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2180.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2180.

Exhibitions +

Albrecht Dürer: his Art in the Context of Time
23.10.2013 - 02.02.2014

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

From Van Eyck to Dürer. Artistic Exchanges Between the Netherlands and Central, Eastern and Northern Europe c. 1420 - 1530
28.10.2010 - 30.01.2011

Alberto Durero e Italia
09.03.2007 - 10.06.2007

Durero. Obras Maestras de la Albertina.
08.03.2005 - 29.05.2005

La Almoneda del Siglo. Relaciones artísticas entre España y Gran Bretaña, 1604 - 1655
15.03.2002 - 02.06.2002

Location +

Room 055B (On Display)

Update date: 19-09-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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