This beautiful female nude, compellingly set off by a black background, was not drawn from life, but constructed. On the recto, we can see that all of the essential points of the body were laid out with the help of rectangles and the extensive use of a compass. This geometric method of construction is typical of the early period of Dürer's proportion studies, from the years around 1500, where his goal was still the recognition of the ideal human form. In later years, the endless measurements that he had carried out upon living models led him to alter his method to one based on a complex system of modules based on actual human proportions; his aim was no longer beauty, but the realization of the law at work in all bodies, whether under- or overweight. These human figures, created solely by means of mathematic calculations, radiate an astounding amount of dignity and beauty – an effect that clearly seems to result from the pious effort to comprehend the divine plan of creation by reconstructing the crown of creation, the likeness of God.


  • Title: Proportion study of female nude with a shield
  • Creator: Albrecht Dürer
  • Date: 1500
  • Physical Dimensions: w20.6 x h30.3 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 44 recto
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Text: © Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / H. Mielke Photo: © Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Artist Place of Death: Nuremberg, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Nuremberg, Germany
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1471-05-21/1528-04-06

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