An altar in a church in Crailsheim, Germany, is again the subject of discussion after some experts tried again to ascribe a painting to Albrecht Dürer.
The painting in question is in the Johanneskirche. The altar was erected around 1490 in the workshop of the Nuremberg painter Michael Wolgemut. It is a huge work: its wings are several meters high and have to be closed by a team of parishioners. As a result, the 500-year-old altar has remained open for most of the year, behind which, according to the painters, hides a Dürer who adorns the exterior.
The well-preserved panel shows both the life of John the Baptist and the Passion of Christ. Art historians have identified several qualities as evidence of Dürer’s authorship, including the posture and muscular build of the figures, as well as the carefully rendered lighting and shadows typical of the Northern Renaissance artist’s work.
If the painting can actually be attributed to him, “it would be a giant step in Dürer’s research,” said Matthias Less, curator at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, the German Press Agency. Dürer historian Manuel Teget-Welz agreed: “This body is fundamentally different from the others. It’s really great. ”However, Teget-Welz admitted that it was difficult to say with“ absolute certainty ”that this work was a real Dürer.
Dürer researchers have been discussing the attribution of the painting for years. In 1928, on the 400th anniversary of Dürer’s death, the altar was dismantled and transported to the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg for closer examination and exhibition.
Experts came back to the topic again in 2016 when Crailsheim held a symposium on Dürer’s connection to the altar. The same experts now examine the tablet again, concentrating on the expression on the face of the executioner of St. John, which is strikingly similar to a portrait that Dürer later made of his mother. So far, art historians have not found any documents proving his involvement in the making of the altar.