Durer's Lasting Impression the MFA's Collection Includes Fine Examples of European and American Paintings, Asian Art, and Ancient Egyptian Artifacts. Following This Five-Part Series, the Monitor Will Interview Curators at London's Tate Gallery. Series: Curators' Tour: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Part 2 of 5 Parts

By Andreae, Christopher | The Christian Science Monitor, February 24, 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Durer's Lasting Impression the MFA's Collection Includes Fine Examples of European and American Paintings, Asian Art, and Ancient Egyptian Artifacts. Following This Five-Part Series, the Monitor Will Interview Curators at London's Tate Gallery. Series: Curators' Tour: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Part 2 of 5 Parts


Andreae, Christopher, The Christian Science Monitor


I could have chosen another Durer print, but this is a much-loved one and one that I came to fully appreciate when I first saw this exceptional early impression from the plate.

"An ordinary impression is wonderfully detailed but lacks the subtle play of light and shadow and the exaggerated depth of space that the room has in this brilliant impression."

These are the basic reasons Clifford Ackley gives for choosing the German artist Albrecht Durer's 1514 virtuoso engraving, "St. Jerome in His Study," as a favorite work in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Mr. Ackley is the department's curator. Ackley explains that in an engraving, the lines that receive the ink are incised into a copper printing plate with a tool called a burin (BYOO-rin), a sharply pointed steel tool. "An 'impression' is a single printing on paper from a plate," he adds. After many impressions, the plate starts to wear, so later impressions are not as good as earlier ones. The MFA's print collection contains 200,000 to 300,000 objects, Ackley says, "ranging from the mid-15th century to the present." So selecting just one could not have been easy. This remarkable print is, however, to be included in an exhibition (Feb. 15-Sept. 7) called "Durer in His Time" - "mostly prints, but also one or two drawings by Durer." Most of the time, the majority of the works in Ackley's department are in storage, but can be seen by appointment. In 1971, he worked on the department's exhibition "Albrecht Durer: Master Printmaker." In it, details of the two impressions of the St. Jerome print that the department owns were compared. "We conceive of our print collection as a study collection ... and we like, particularly for a famous print, to have both better and worse impressions for comparison, so that the student can learn about quality." He describes the "St. Jerome" print as "a milestone in the history of engraving, an evocation of an absolutely extraordinary pattern of light and shadow in a rational, coherent space." That, and "the texture of things" depicted "are elements that are much more vivid in a brilliant early impression. "In a later impression, it all becomes more equal.... The thing that struck me when I first saw this one - or when I have since seen comparable impressions, and there aren't many - was that rather than being all over and diffuse, your attention is urgently directed to the saint himself. The perspective of the space is actually rather exaggerated. It zooms in on the saint. He is also picked out by the halo of light around his head - because that's the only untouched bit of white paper in the entire composition.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Durer's Lasting Impression the MFA's Collection Includes Fine Examples of European and American Paintings, Asian Art, and Ancient Egyptian Artifacts. Following This Five-Part Series, the Monitor Will Interview Curators at London's Tate Gallery. Series: Curators' Tour: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Part 2 of 5 Parts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?