Dürer’s St. Dominic (1506)
On the surface this drawing by Albrecht Durer appears to be a simple portrait of Saint Dominic. Look more closely, though, and you will note not only that St. Dominic's pen is placed above Durer's monogram as though the saint himself had just drawn it but the monogram takes on the shape of the saint as well. As noted elsewhere of other signed images by Durer, the artist identifies with his subject by making his monogram echo the subject.1 Here the shape of the A with its splayed legs mimics the saint's torso with his slightly diverging arms.
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In addition, though, the foot of the letter A's left leg comes alive, dangling slightly downwards like the saint's hand on the same side.
Comparing the forms in an image to the artist's signature or monogram is an important method for establishing the artist's meaning, as important for the study of Durer as of Picasso.
More Works by Dürer
St. Veronica’s veil was the cloth with which she wiped Christ’s face after his death and on which the imprint of his face was left. The cloth with its miraculous image is here held by the angel as though it is being blown by the wind.
Dürer’s woodcut of The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian provides further evidence that even religious scenes are self-referential.
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