Albrecht Dürer, The Great Piece of Turf, 1503, pen, ink and watercolor, 15⅞” x 12¼”, Albertina, Vienna, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Dürer’s Snapshot

It looks like this refined watercolor of a clump of turf was done on the spot – the artist, German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer, sitting outside in a meadow; however, Dürer painted it in his studio probably after arranging the weeds and grass just so.

A closer inspection reveals that this relatively small watercolor sketch was created with exacting, scientific precision.  Everything can be identified.  There is cock’s-foot, creeping bent, smooth meadow-grass, daisy, dandelion, germander speedwell, greater plantain, hound’s-tongue and yarrow.

This kind of detail is typical for artists from northern Europe.  It’s also the sort of thing that Leonardo da Vinci was doing at the same time in Italy.  It’s a study of the natural world as well as a study of the divine in the natural world.  It’s also something to keep on hand in the studio for future reference.

Happy Earth Day from The Art Minute.  

See this drawing among others in a special exhibition entitled, Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC through June 9, 2013.

Read a review of the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art here.

Take a very close look at this watercolor in the Google Art Project here.