It is thanks to the printmaking medium that the impact of Albrecht Dürer (1471‒1528) and Lucas van Leyden (ca. 1489‒1533) has been especially long-lived. In 1521, the two artists met in Antwerp, and it was an encounter with consequences. As direct comparison shows, Lucas van Leyden was by no means merely an epigone, but adopted Dürer’s themes and processed them artistically in a highly independent ‒ and often unconventional ‒ manner.
The rich holdings of the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs have made it possible to present a novel selection of the two artists’ engravings, woodcuts and etchings. The focus, however, will not be on their well-known and frequently exhibited series (Passions, Life of the Virgin, Apocalypse). On the contrary, the show will highlight themes that were new in their time and commenced with Dürer’s early work around 1495: amorous couples and the protagonists of everyday life.
These scenes mirror an interest in contemporary reality and society’s morals. Depictions of peasants produced in the print medium would come to serve as important models for the development of genre art, especially in the Netherlands. Other popular themes in the period around 1500 were saints depicted in landscapes and suspenseful Biblical stories staged in contemporary settings again and again in countless different forms. Finally, Dürer’s affordable woodcut broadsheets reached a wider public than ever, thus expediting the paradigm shift within the spectrum of artistic media.