Art & Art History

The Cult of the Artist: “Dürer on the Museum”

  • A self portrait of Albrecht Durer.
    A self portrait of Albrecht Durer.
  • A bust of Durer in the city where he had his studio, Nuremberg.
    A bust of Durer in the city where he had his studio, Nuremberg.

Location: Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts

March 19, 2015
Art historian Jeffrey Chipps Smith delivers the Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History at Washington College March 19.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The 12th annual Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History at Washington College will examine the talent and times that made German artist Albrecht Dürer the most celebrated man of the Northern European Renaissance, his image incorporated into the exterior and interior decoration of museums throughout the continent. 

University of Texas art historian Jeffery Chipps Smith will deliver the slide lecture, “Dürer on the Museum,” on Thursday, March 19, at 4:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the Gibson Center lobby. 

The technical virtuosity and visual sophistication of Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings dazzled viewers, and his wide-ranging intellect, ambition, and travels brought him friendships with some of the most prominent figures in German society, including Emperor Maximilian and theologian Desiderius Erasmus. His career developed during an era of great social and cultural change. Published in 1498, when Dürer was 27, his The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was the first book designed and published by an artist, and it earned him international fame and financial security. He went on to experiment with a variety of media and techniques.

Painted and carved portraits of Albrecht Dürer were displayed on the exterior and interior decorative programs of more than 30 princely, state, and civic art museums during Europe’s great century of museum building. Smith will discuss the cult of this Nuremberg master, the rise of a canon of great Renaissance and Baroque artists, and the cultural and political aspirations of the museums and their patrons.

A statue of Durer graces the roofline of the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna.A statue of Durer graces the roofline of the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna.

Smith is the Kay Fortson Chair in European Art at the University of Texas, where he has taught since 1979, and author of Dürer, published in 2012 byPhaidon. His lecture at Washington College is based on one he delivered at the National Gallery in London last April. He is also at work on a new book on the topic.  

Smith has written several other art history books and numerous scholarly articles about  German and Netherlandish art from 1400 to 1700. He served several editing roles for Renaissance Quarterly from 2003 to 2009 and isone of the inaugural co-editors of Journal of the Historians of Netherlandish Art. His honors include the Anna-Maria Kellen Berlin Prize, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, and several book prizes.

Established by Washington College professor emeritus Robert J. H. Janson-La Palme and his wife, Bayly, the Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History brings internationally known scholars to campus for public lectures. For more information on the series and past guest lecturers, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/departments/art-and-art-history/janson-la-palme-lecture.php.

A detail from the ceiling of the Kunsthistorishes Museum in Vienna shows Durer standing to the right of Emperor Maximilian.A detail from the ceiling of the Kunsthistorishes Museum in Vienna shows Durer standing to the right of Emperor Maximilian.


Last modified on Nov. 2nd, 2017 at 7:13pm by Julie Wills.