Albrecht Dürer

Two Sisters

31 May to 17 September 2006

For the first time in over 150 years the two portraits of young women that Albrecht Dürer painted in 1497 – one of which is in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt and the other in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie – could be seen side by side again. They were probably conceived from the very start as a pair of pictures, albeit a very unusual one: a débutante from Nuremberg society alongside a pious, introverted woman deep in prayer; a portrait against a neutral background alongside a portrait in the corner of a room with the view of a landscape; and a figure of Italian inspiration juxtaposed with one that is more or less Late Gothic. One is tempted to think that two sisters could be portrayed here – two women who bear a physical similarity to each other, yet have taken very different paths in life.

However, the artistic-aesthetic dimension of these seemingly very intentionally presented opposites also leads one to suspect that the artist may have had a very special relationship with the two sisters. Could they have even been two sisters of Albrecht Dürer – and could the most famous of all German artists have painted their portraits?

The exhibition gathered evidence to support this supposition, but it also showed two further versions of the two pictures, both of high quality. The mystery of which pair was painted by the master and which is a copy was also examined, and visitors were encouraged to guess for themselves.

CURATOR: Dr. Bodo Brinkmann, Städel Museum
FURTHER VENUES: Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, 6.10.2006–7.1.2007; Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, 1/26–3/25/2007