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Albrecht Dürer’s material world

30 June 2023 – 10 March 2024

Albrecht Dürer’s material world

Albrecht Dürer’s material world is the first major exhibition of the Whitworth’s outstanding Dürer collection in over half a century.

The exhibition offers a new perspective on Dürer as an intense observer of the worlds of manufacture, design, and trade that fill his graphic art. Woodcuts, etchings, and engravings, from the Whitworth’s collection, are juxtaposed with a range of objects from Dürer’s time, including armour and tableware, books and scientific instruments, textiles, and exotic artefacts. The exhibition highlights the ingenuity and skill with which Dürer, a leading figure of Europe’s print revolution, represented his material world.

You are invited to enter three themed spaces of creation and creativity in Renaissance Nuremberg: the home, the workshop, and the scholar’s study. Artworks and objects in these three rooms expose understudied aspects of Dürer’s art and practice, including his attentive study of objects of daily domestic use, his involvement in economies of local manufacture and exchange, and the microarchitectures of local craft. And, finally, we focus on the attention Dürer paid to the furnishings and artefacts tied to cultures of natural and philosophical inquiry and learning.

This exhibition’s novel approach reconsiders how a changing Renaissance material world, characterised by increasing globalisation, sparked artistic creativity and major innovations in the production of art and craft in Dürer’s native Nuremberg and beyond. The show also takes a fresh look at the history of collecting Dürer’s art in the northwest of England, and the role those local collectors – many themselves involved in trade, industry, and design – played in amassing one of the country’s most significant holdings of this Renaissance artist’s graphic work.


30 June 2023 – 10 March 2024

This exhibition has been made possible with support from:

The Getty Foundation through The Paper Project initiative
John Rylands Research Institute and Library
The School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester
The German History Society
The Australian Research Council
The Friends of the Whitworth

Visit the Whitworth Shop for a first look at the Albrecht Dürer material world catalogue, now available to buy from the Whitworth Shop and published by Manchester University Press.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue (published by Manchester University Press) draw on the expertise of a team of Manchester-based and international researchers who have been examining Dürer’s art from the perspective of material culture studies for over three years. The team comprises established Dürer scholars, art historians, and historians of material culture: The University of Manchester scholars Edward Wouk, Sasha Handley, Stefan Hanß and Whitworth Curator (Historic Fine Art) Imogen Holmes-Roe, are joined by Australian and European researchers Jennifer Spinks, Matthew Champion, Dagmar Eichberger and Charles Zika. Together, they have created an exhibition that will throw new light on Dürer’s interface with the material Renaissance.


Image: Albrecht Dürer, Landscape with a Cannon, 1518
Courtesy, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester