Paradise Lost: Albrecht Dürer's Stolen EdenParadise Lost: Albrecht Dürer's Stolen Eden
Albrecht Dürer, German, 1471 - 1528 'The Expulsion From Paradise' (detail), from the Small Passion (1511), ca. 1510, Woodcut, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Estate of W. H. Foote

March 15 - June 5

Paradise Lost: Albrecht Dürer's Stolen Eden

On a weekend in June, 1973, a woodcut by one of the world's greatest printmakers, the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), was stolen from the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The print was part of Dürer's Small Passion, a series of thirty-six illustrations and a title page featuring key moments of the Christian redemption story, from the ''Fall of Man'' to the ''Last Judgment," that was printed in Nuremburg as a devotional book in 1511. The stolen work depicted the ''Expulsion from Paradise''-God's exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Little is known about the theft: an investigation at the time by the Memphis Police Department resulted in no leads, and the print was never recovered. In 2021, the museum's European art specialist, Dr. Rosamund Garrett, discovered that a rare example of the ''Expulsion from Paradise'' had emerged on the market in Dresden, Germany. The museum successfully bid on the print at auction and added it to the permanent collection. This exhibition is the first time Dürer's Small Passion series has been shown complete in Memphis in almost fifty years.

The Small Passion exemplifies Dürer's talent for direct, yet complex compositions, meticulous detail, and rich tonality. Originally taught by his father, a master goldsmith, Dürer later trained with the most accomplished printmakers across Europe before setting up his own workshop. Dürer's printed books were an astonishing success; demand for religious imagery was widespread, and the artist was commercially savvy, offering prints at a range of sizes and prices. According to Dürer's diary, he sold sixteen Small Passion sets to a dealer named Sebald Fischer for five stuiver* each, about the cost of a pair of shoes, though he appears to have charged more to clients not buying in bulk. Dürer's relatively affordable books, their ease of distribution, and his ability to push the boundaries of what was possible in woodcut, earned the artist a large international following, inspired the artists of succeeding generations, and cemented his reputation as a leading figure of the European Renaissance.

*stuiver or Stiver (pronounced: sty· vuh): a pre-decimal coin used in the Netherlands. 20 stuiver equaled one Dutcti guilder or one Florentine florin.

With special thanks to Fatima Leal, Rhodes College Junior, Summer 2021 Lainoff Fellow, and Curatorial Intern, who assisted Dr. Garrett in making this acquisition.

Exhibition Programs

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Artist

Curator

Artists + Curator

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer

(b. Nuremberg, 1471- 1528)

View Artist's Website

Albrecht Dürer

(b. Nuremberg, 1471- 1528)

View Artist's Website
Chief Curator

Rosamund Garrett

Dr Rosamund Garrett is the Chief Curator at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Born in the United Kingdom, Rosamund gained her undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art, before joining The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, for her MA (2011-12), and PhD (2012-2016). There she specialized in the art of Northern Europe in the Late Medieval and Renaissance period. Dr Garrett has worked in various museum positions in the UK including The National Trust and The Courtauld Gallery in London, working primarily with European Art and global contemporary art. In November 2018, Dr Garrett moved to Memphis. Here, she has worked on exhibitions including Power & Absence: Women in Europe, 1500 - 1680, Mona Hatoum: Misbah, and On Christopher Street: Transgender Portraits by Mark Seliger.

Rosamund Garrett

Chief Curator

Rosamund Garrett

Dr Rosamund Garrett is the Chief Curator at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Born in the United Kingdom, Rosamund gained her undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art, before joining The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, for her MA (2011-12), and PhD (2012-2016). There she specialized in the art of Northern Europe in the Late Medieval and Renaissance period. Dr Garrett has worked in various museum positions in the UK including The National Trust and The Courtauld Gallery in London, working primarily with European Art and global contemporary art. In November 2018, Dr Garrett moved to Memphis. Here, she has worked on exhibitions including Power & Absence: Women in Europe, 1500 - 1680, Mona Hatoum: Misbah, and On Christopher Street: Transgender Portraits by Mark Seliger.

Program Recordings

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Resources

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

The American art theorist Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) posed this question as the title of a pioneering article in 1971. This essay was considered one of the first major works of Feminist art history, it has become a set text for those who study art internationally, and it is influential in many other fields.

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by Linda Nochlin