The Suicide of Lucretia, Dürer

The Suicide of Lucretia, Dürer
The Suicide of Lucretia, Dürer

Alberto Dürer has masterfully represented in his works the dichotomy between beauty and ugliness, in his canvases and engravings works worthy of the most classicist canons are appreciated in equal parts in contrast to other works much more " individuals”. Although it is true that in the compositions of his canvases the Flemish artist always incorporates an enigmatic aspect that over the years has acquired a great esoteric weight, if there is any work by Albrecht Dürer–already be it canvas or engraving- that is presented in an enigmatic way before the general public is without a doubt The Suicide of Lucrecia or The Death of Lucrecia.

Durer, Lucrezia

Alberto Dürer (1471 – 1528) has become the most outstanding artistic figure of the Renaissance period outside of Italy. An exceptional painter and engraver, his painting transcended borders and the years, becoming a benchmark for avant-garde and contemporary artists. Dürer will mark the transition between traditional forms anchored in medieval aesthetics, the influence of the multiple details of the Flemish primitives, and the naturalistic and realistic painting of Renaissance aesthetics.

The work that concerns us here is a canvas on lime wood panel that is currently in the Old Pinacoteca of the city of Munich in Germany. Under a historical-mythological theme, the artist represents the suicide of Lucrecia. According to the version of Tito LivioLucrecia was one of the most beautiful and respected women of the ancient Roman Empire; daughter of the Spurious consul Lucrecio Tricipitino and wife of Collatinus, she sheltered her cousin Sextus Tarquinius in her house when her husband was out of the city. Tarquinio took advantage of the darkness of the night to get to her bedroom and rape Lucrecia, who was unable to bear the shame of her rape and decided to take her own life.

Dürer's canvas represents the moments after the rape, when the young Lucrezia decides to take her own life. It is a large, vertical format canvas, almost life-size, in which the artist has depicted the young Lucrecia completely nude in a narrow, dimly lit room. It seems that Dürer's canvas was more oriented towards studies of proportion than faithfully representing the story of Lucretia. In the body of the young woman, a great anatomical study can be seen with well-cared-for proportions and represented in a natural way, contrasting with a curly, unattractive face that, more than bitterness, seems to be possessed.

Perhaps this is the reason why Dürer's painting has had few followers over the years, however we also find artists, such as the avant-garde Chirico, who has been inspired by Lucrecia's canvas. According to the studies carried out, the work was modified after its execution by covering the sex, originally naked, of the young woman with a white cloth. In addition, Dürer's work was discovered undera painting of the same theme painted by the artist Luchas Cranach the Elder.

Popular topic