Artwork of the Week: May 17

 In MOA Artwork of the Week

Albrecht Durer "The Prodigal Son Amid the Swine"

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), The Prodigal Son Amid the Swine, c. 1496, engraving, 9 7/16 x 7 7/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

On May 21, 1471, Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Today he is widely regarded as the most important German artist during the Renaissance. Much of Dürer’s work focused on religious themes, reflecting the prevailing climate of religious discourse in the Reformation era. This week, we celebrate his significant artistic contributions and highlight one of engravings in the MOA collection.

The Prodigal Son recounts the scriptural narrative in Luke 15:11-32 where the son of a wealthy man leaves home and squanders his inheritance. Dürer has placed the Prodigal Son kneeling in the haystacks, surrounded by the pigs who seem to have a better meal than he. With his hands clasped together and his gaze raised heavenward, it seems to be a moment of change and humility. Dürer’s careful observation of the exposed thigh, calf, and foot of the Prodigal show that he studied how the muscles and tendons of the human body worked, something uncommon for artists to do before the Renaissance period.

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