Portrait of Jakob Fugger the Wealthy Albrecht Durer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Albrecht Durer produced this portrait of Jakob Fugger the Wealthy in 1520 and it can now be found in the permanent collection of the Staatsgalerie Altdeutsche Meister, Augsburg, Germany. He would go on to become regarded as one of the most technically gifted and innovative German artists in history.

This portrait features a fairly serious expression from Jacob who is again dressed modestly, just as with most of this artist's depictions. He stares off to our left, and the background behind him is devoid of any great detail. It oozes honesty and integrity, when most subjects of this era would have wanted to be seen in a more glamorous and extravagant manner. Fugger was known to be a rich merchant at a time when huge amounts of money could be made through trade across different locations, just as the world started to open up. Emperor Maximilian I would request Durer to visit Augsburg to work on a number of projects and it was this which gave the opportunity for the portrait that we find in front of us here. It is likely that the artist would have created several study drawings at the time of the various figures that he met whilst visiting from Nuremburg, before then completing paintings at a later date, with this portrait arriving two years later, by which time the emperor had already passed away. Durer had built up an impressive reputation a good decade or more earlier, and so could meet these individuals on a relatively equal footing and would be afforded great respect and treatment as a result.

The coat with fur lining, although modest in appearance, was actually a sign of wealth at the time, with fashion being generally understated in Germany at that time. Much research has been carried out into the life of Jacob Fugger and many believe him to have been one of the most wealthy individuals of recent times. He was born into a trading family but quickly worked to expand the geographical coverage of their business, which vastly increased their income as a result. It was therefore his ambitious nature which helped to greatily boost the already impressive family business and he was also able to take advantage of a world which was becoming smaller and more involved at this time. The family was also involved in mining raw materials, such as silver and copper and their influence spread across different regions of the country, with trading then carried out right across Europe.

The Staatsgalerie Altdeutsche Meister itself is a small but still significant art gallery which hosts a number of important artists, most of whom with German roots. One item of note is a series of basilica designs which included the involvement of Hans Holbein the Elder, a man whose son would go on to achieve extraordinary things both within Germany and the UK as well. Germany itself has a series of excellent provincial museums which help to keep its people aware of their great history within the art world, as many of the national galleries tend to take a more international approach in order to cater for different tastes. In neighbouring Austria you will also find a similar scenario and together the two nations offers us some of the very finest collections of art anywhere in the world, helping to boost their tourist numbers as well as educating younger generations about art history.

Portrait of Jakob Fugger the Wealthy in Detail Albrecht Durer