CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Dürer Was Here: A Journey Becomes Legend

Exhibition: 18 July - 24 October 2021

500 years ago, in 1520-21, Albrecht Dürer traveled through the Rhineland and what constituted the Netherlands at that time. He kept a travel journal that affords us glimpses into the fascinating world of this Renaissance superstar. It shows us how Dürer lived, who Dürer met, and what amazed and inspired Dürer. He paid a visit to Aachen in October 1520 to attend the coronation of Charles V – and again in July 1521 on his journey home to Nuremberg. And now the magnificent art of this legendary road trip is coming to visit Aachen. With its grand exhibition Dürer Was Here: A Journey Becomes Legend, the Suermondt Ludwig Museum invites its visitors to explore Dürer’s world.

Around 90 masterpieces by Dürer himself will be joined by around 90 outstanding works of art by his contemporaries and his followers: artists that Dürer met on his travels; and artists that Dürer inspired – through his journey and through his art. These include Quinten Massys, Joos van Cleve, Lucas van Leyden, Jan Gossart, Bernard van Orley, Marinus van Reymerswale, Dirk Vellert, Jan Mostaert, Conrad Meit, Hans Hoffmann, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Aachen Cathedral and the Katschhof,1520, British Museum, London

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Aachen Cathedral and the Katschhof,1520, British Museum, London

Original pages from the historic copy (from about 1570) of Dürer’s travel journal, along with historical documents, round this show off into something the likes of which have never been seen before in this form: a combined art, culture and social historical “big picture’ of the journey – one of the oldest on record that we still have today, and described in the words of the artist himself.

Over 190 exhibits

In all, the show features over 190 exhibits – drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and outer wings of an altarpiece, as well as historical documents like letters, maps and fashion designs. Priceless works of art have been loaned from prestigious German and international collections such as the Royal Collection, the British Museum in London, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, Antwerp’s Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Albertina in Vienna, the Uffizi in Florence, Washington’s National Gallery of Art and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Suermondt Ludwig Museum in Aachen is organising the exhibition in collaboration with the National Gallery in London, where it will go on show – in a slightly modified form – after this exhibition has closed (20 November 2021 to 27 February 2022) under the title “Dürer´s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist”.

The Exhibition in Aachen, originally scheduled to open in October 2020 but postponed at an early stage – due to the pandemic – until the summer of 2021, is part of the trilogy “Dürer – Charles V – Aachen”.

Curators and catalogue 

The Dürer exhibition in Aachen is being curated in Aachen by Peter van den Brink, Director of the Suermondt Ludwig Museum, Sarvenaz Ayooghi, curator for Paintings, Dr. Dagmar Preising, curator for graphic art and sculpture, and Wibke Vera Birth, curator for paintings and sculpture. The Dürer exhibition  in London is being curated  by Dr. Susan Foister, Deputy Director and Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Paintings at the National Gallery.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the Michael Imhof Verlag (in German) with 26 essays by internationally renowned art scholars – 680 pages with around 500 illustrations. See the publisher’s website for more information about the catalogue.

Related CODART publications

Anne van Oosterwijk, “Dürer Was Here: A Journey Becomes Legend”, CODARTfeatures, October 2021.

Related events

News about this exhibition