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12-Dec-2015 19:00

In a two-room show at the Courtauld, visitors can now watch a genius of the Northern renaissance growing up in public.

The results are plenty of disembodied sketches which show legs, drapery and hands in a variety of gestures from the serene to the obscene.

For several years covered by this show, Dürer was on his Wanderjarhr, an arty German prototype of the Grand Tour.

Dürer always had a sure touch, a fact which works to his advantage when it came to making prints.

Given a page to fill in either of these two mediums and the artist makes every square inch count.

And while the prints may not be the focus of this tightly delineated show, they surely steal it from the drawings.

But at least one of the drawings in the show is a highlight and this is a self portrait from '91-'92.

Double-sided panels have been used to showcase single sheets paper which Dürer has rendered invaluable by drawing studies on both sides.

The drawings in this show can all be dated between 14, the artist’s early 20s.These may not be first steps (there are said to be missing drawings of heads by a nine-year-old Dürer), but they still carry flaws, and are little match for the woodcuts and the engravings also on display here.In his woodcut of Christ’s flagellation, for example, the details are rich: a small boy blows a horn; one of the tormentors pulls Jesus’s hair while another ties up another sheaf of birch in great haste. Another woodcut shows men at a spa in which the strategic placement of a spigot and tap makes for one of the earliest art historical innendoes.An engraving of the prodigal son shows him praying by a dung heap amidst a herd of pigs and frolicking piglets.

We are reminded that Dürer was his own greatest source of inspiration, as can be seen from the studies of his own left hand, his own legs, his own feet.The portrait shows a melancholy young chap, which given his licence to roam Europe and win fame as an artist is rich.