A Dog Resting
A Dog Resting is one of the liveliest animals Dürer ever produced. The dog’s fur is extremely soft, and one has to resist the temptation of trying to pet the animal. Silverpoint is conducive to creating fine lines, and Dürer delineates each hair with individual focus in this drawing. Moreover, Dürer expresses the pet’s eye, muzzle, paws, and bones with acute precision, showcasing his dexterity in yet another medium. Dürer created this drawing while he was in Aachen in 1520. It is one of several animal studies he executed on this trip, and it displays Dürer’s fondness of animals. He owned various pets, and he often travelled to cities with the goal of seeing exotic animals (note 1). Dogs are featured in many of Dürer’s works, most notably, in St. Eustace as well as in Dürer’s three master engravings, Melancholia I, Knight, Death and Devil, and Saint Jerome in His Study. He depicted animals with compassionate observation, and chose not to project human qualities upon them. The animals in Dürer’s images preserve their own characters, and this allowed him to master their representation in various media. In the early sixteenth century Dürer was the quintessential animal lover amongst artists, and his many graphic designs of living creatures express the extent to which he was fascinated by the infinite variety of God’s creations.
note 1. During his trip to the Netherlands Dürer visits a “Beast-garden,” and individual entries in his travel journal indicate that he purchased animals. For more details, see William Martin Conway ed., The Writings of Albrecht Dürer, (New York, 1958) 92-126.