Saint John's Church 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 watercolour painting is among some of the earliest paintings to show a specific location in European art. The painting of Saint John's Church is estimated to have been painted by Durer during the summer of 1489. He was at the age of 18.

However, the painting of Saint John's Church can be dated from the time he made his journeyman trip in 1494. The painting shows a row of houses and Saint John's Church located in Nuremberg West. About 40 years later, the painter Durer was supposed to be laid to rest in Saint John's graveyard. This watercolour faces south which has a distant view of the hills beyond. It has a bird's eye view, which makes its perspective curious. The row of houses in the Saint John's Church painting appears flat rather than in 3D.

Despite all the challenges in the picture, Durer took great care of the picture. When he painted this early watercolour, he was more into rendering the details than its overall effect. This painting was looted and lost for about 50 years during the 2nd world war. It was owned by Kunsthalle and among some of the old master paintings kept in cellars for safekeeping in a mansion located 50 miles from Berlin. After the army occupied the space, the painting of Saint John's Church was ransacked. A young officer, Viktor Baldin, found Saint John's Church painting on the floor, among other artwork left to perish by the first looter. The officer saved the Saint John's Church drawing together with other 363 paintings (22 Durer). The painting was returned to Russia.

Later on, Baldin gave the painting of Saint John's Church to the architectural museum in Moscow. The existence of the painting was kept secrete until 1992. Currently, the Saint John's Church painting is in St. Petersburg. Albrecht Durer was a germ printmaker who had some of the most famous artwork like knights, apocalypse woodcuts, the devil, Melencolia and Saint Jerome in the study. The subject of the art was mainly interpretation and analysis. The watercolour painting made him the first landscape artist in Europe. His woodcut shows ambitions to revolutionise the potential of the available medium. Albrecht Durer's paintings promoted his reputation across all Europe, and he was only in his twenties. At that time, he was considered the greatest artist in northern Europe of the renaissance. The painting was hand-made using oil, making it one of the most known and famous Albrecht Durer paintings.