Albrecht Dürer produced this status portrait of a young man on his travels through the Netherlands in 1521. The name on the letter in his hands is difficult to read but could be identified with Bernhard von Reesen thanks to an entry in Dürer’s diary. Reesen was a successful merchant, born in Danzig (Gdansk) and living in Antwerp, who had his portrait painted at the age of thirty. Dürer, who was familiar with Netherlandish portraiture but also the Venetian art of the portrait, depicted Reesen in three-quarter profile as a close head-and-shoulders portrait against a red background. His hands and shoulders are cut off; the view concentrates on the head with its large beret and bright face. Gazing out of the picture, Reesen, who died that year, is depicted as contemplative.


  • Title: Bernhard von Reesen
  • Creator: Albrecht Dürer
  • Date Created: 1521
  • Physical Dimensions: 45.5 × 31.5 cm
  • Technique and Material: Oil on oak wood
  • Provenance: Acquired in Paris in 1743 via Le Leu, first listed in the inventory in 1754
  • Museum: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
  • Inv.-No.: 1871
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-845318
  • External Link: http://www.skd.museum/de/museen-institutionen/zwinger-mit-semperbau/gemaeldegalerie-alte-meister/
  • Copyright: Photo © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister / Elke Estel, Hans-Peter Klut; Text © Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach, A Cooperation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nov 20, 2016 – March 26, 2017, Munich: Prestel, 2016; cat. no. 98 / Roland Enke
  • Catalogue: https://prestelpublishing.randomhouse.de/book/Renaissance-and-Reformation/Stephanie-Buck/Prestel-com/e504919.rhd
  • Artist Dates: 1471 Nuremberg–1528 Nuremberg
  • Artist Biography: Dürer, who initially trained in his father’s goldsmith workshop, apprenticed to the painter Michael Wolgemut from 1486. His travels as a journeyman from 1490 to 1495 took him to the Upper Rhine and northern Italy, to which he returned a second time in 1505–7 (his stay in Venice). In 1520 he traveled to the Netherlands. Dürer’s prints, his most important source of income, made him famous throughout Europe, and the monogram AD became a seal of quality. His abundant production of paintings included altarpieces, portraits (especially of the patricians of Nuremberg), and self-portraits, among other works. Emperor Maximilian I entrusted important commissions to Dürer’s workshop, where Hans Baldung, the Beham brothers, and Hans Schäufelein were working. Dürer, who was in constant contact with important humanists, also wrote on issues of art theory, especially the theory of proportion. He was regarded as an Homo universalis (Renaissance man) already during his lifetime.

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