Albrecht Dürer, Hare, 25 x 23cm,
Watercolor and body color, heightened with white body color
THE EMPEROR’S HARE BY ALBRECHT DÜRER
500 years ago Albrecht Dürer painted the most famous hare of all time.
WHY DID DÜRER PAINT THIS CHUBBY LITTLE HARE?
He loved nature, animals and plants and saw beauty in the simplest and smallest things and turned them into great works of art. At one point this hare belonged to Emperor Rudolf II.
CAN A HARE SIT STILL?
To me it looks like he is ready to jump out of the picture into the field, so Dürer needs to make a quick sketch to outline the shape of the animal.
HOW DID HE PAINT IT?
Before he grabs the hare to sit for him he needs to prepare:
A piece of paper to measure 25.1 x 22.6 cm on which he paints a base in cream colored watercolor. The yellow spots in the background are not painted. They are called “foxing” and come from moisture getting into the paper.
Mixing pigment with water makes watercolor. For the highlights on the whiskers and the white hairs he needs a thicker, more opaque, less transparent paint. To make this paint called gouache, one needs white chalk and water and mix it with gum arabic (sap from a tree) that binds the chalk and water together.
After making the sketch Dürer builds up many layers of brush strokes to give form to the muscles and bones. Then come the different shades of hair, each one a single and sure brush stroke, from the short fluffy fur on top to the longer rougher hair on the side. At the end he dots and draws the white highlights. He can’t make any mistakes. If you have used watercolor before you’ll know how hard it is for the colors not to run into each other. Every painted hair has to be put in the right place and dry before he paints the next one.
WHERE DOES THE LIGHT COME FROM?
Hint: look at the shadow the hare casts on your right.
ART DETECTIVES: WHERE WAS IT PAINTED?
Zoom in on the eye…...
wikipedia/commons/4/44/ Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Hare%2C_ 1502_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
you will see the reflection of the studio window in his eye!
Albrecht Dürer paints his initials or “monogram” on all his pictures. He wants people to know that they are looking at Dürer’s world. The hare now lives at the Albertina museum in Vienna, Austria.
Why don’t you print the page and copy the hare with your very own monogram and date?
If you like this hare, look at Dürer’s other animals and paintings of himself looking like Christ with very, very long hair. He even draws himself stark naked!