Albrecht Dürer and the Embodiment of Genius: Decorating Museums in the Nineteenth Century

Albrecht Dürer and the Embodiment of Genius: Decorating Museums in the Nineteenth Century

by Jeffrey Chipps Smith


Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


During the nineteenth century, Albrecht Dürer’s art, piety, and personal character were held up as models to inspire contemporary artists and—it was hoped—to return Germany to international artistic eminence. In this book, Jeffrey Chipps Smith explores Dürer’s complex posthumous reception during the great century of museum building in Europe, with a particular focus on the artist’s role as a creative and moral exemplar for German artists and museum visitors.

In an era when museums were emerging as symbols of civic, regional, and national identity, dozens of new national, princely, and civic museums began to feature portraits of Dürer in their elaborate decorative programs embellishing the facades, grand staircases, galleries, and ceremonial spaces. Most of these arose in Germany and Austria, though examples can be seen as far away as St. Petersburg, Stockholm, London, and New York City. Probing the cultural, political, and educational aspirations and rivalries of these museums and their patrons, Smith traces how Dürer was painted, sculpted, and prominently placed to accommodate the era’s diverse needs and aspirations. He investigates what these portraits can tell us about the rise of a distinct canon of famous Renaissance and Baroque artists—addressing the question of why Dürer was so often paired with Raphael, who was considered to embody the greatness of Italian art—and why, with the rise of German nationalism, Hans Holbein the Younger often replaced Raphael as Dürer’s partner.

Accessibly written and comprehensive in scope, this book sheds new light on museum building in the nineteenth century and the rise of art history as a discipline. It will appeal to specialists in nineteenth-century and early modern art, the history of museums and collecting, and art historiography.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271085944
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 10/09/2020
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Chipps Smith is Kay Fortson Chair in European Art at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of numerous books, including Dürer and The Essential Dürer.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1. Preludes

2. Self-Fashioning and the Early Cult of Albrecht Dürer

3. The Alte Pinakothek in Munich

4. The Alte Pinakothek’s Direct Heirs

5. Dürer, Raphael, and Holbein in Early Civic and Princely Institutions: Frankfurt and Karlsruhe

6. Dürer and Germania in Berlin

7. The Figured Fa.ade, or Dürer Accompanied

8. Stairs to Immortality

9. Dürer, Emperor Maximilian I, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna





Customer Reviews