Portrait of Jakob Muffel 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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This painting was completed in 1526, just two years before the death of its creator, Albrecht Durer. Jakob Muffel was a Nuremburg burgomaster and this would be one of a number of portraits completed by Durer of local figures that year.

We see the subject staring off into the distance, to our left hand side. He wears an elegant hat with gold lines cutting across horizontally. It sits proudly upon his head, seemingly placed with care and precision. A small amount of grey hair appears from underneath, with most seemingly lost to age. A strong vein line makes its way down the side of his head, and he boasts a long, prominent nose. His eyes are brown, with a piercing stare, and his mouth is closed tightly, suggesting a defensive manner. Most of the artist's portraits from this same year would feature a similarly serious expression from his subjects. Writing can be found in the top left corner of the painting which is visible in gold lettering over the rough aqua coloured background. Jacob Muffel wears a fur covered coat, in keeping for the time, and underneath holds several further layers of a white shirt and black top. These clothes point to a man of relative prominence within Nuremburg society at that time.

This piece, titled locally as Porträt des Jacob Muffel, was actually less than 50cm in height and Durer would sometimes produce portraits which were fairly small. He was still somehow able to incorporate some incredible levels of detail, to the point where we can almost imagine meeting each subject in person. The artist would also capture Johann Kleberger and Hieronymus Holzschuher in this same year and many of his portraits of this period were the same size, leading to suggestions that they had been intended to be displayed together, perhaps at a local council or city hall event. Many question marks around the artist's career have been answered over the years because of the huge amount of research that has been completed into his life, but we are not sure about whether these portraits from 1526 were intended to be presented together or not as yet.

This charming portrait can now be found in the Gemäldegalerie of Berlin, Germany. The artist's own connection to his home town of Nuremburg remains strong, even though his work has now been dispersed all across Europe, such was the success that he achieved and the continued respect that is shown to his oeuvre by the international art public. Visitors to the Gemäldegalerie will be able to discover many more exciting artworks, with many coming from artists who were loosely related to Durer in terms of artistic style or period. Some good examples of the high level of work to be found in this establishment include the likes of Christ Carrying the Cross by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Caravaggio's Amor Victorious and also Vermeer's The Wine Glass and Woman with a Pearl Necklace.

Portrait of Jakob Muffel in Detail Albrecht Durer