Ever been fascinated with old abandoned buildings? There’s a good reason for that – one never knows what they hide. A fresco was recently discovered on a wall covered with a centuries-old layer of dirt above the souvenir shop in Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Experts believe that the drawing was created by none other than Albrecht Durer. If this is true, it means that the Nuremberg Renaissance master must have visited Vienna, although not a single well-known source mentions it.
The painting was discovered in a closed bishop’s portico. Now the cramped space adjacent to the cathedral hosts a souvenir shop. The mural was probably painted around 1505 – this dating is consistent with the time of the construction of the portico and with the style of the work itself.
The unusual work is a two-dimensional image of the altar triptych. The preparatory drawing is in the figure of St. Catherine on the left “wing” and in St. Margarita on the right. In the center is Saint Leopold, one of the patrons of Austria, and under the three saints is an image of predella (a platform which an altar stands on).
Erwin Pokorny, a Vienna expert on the artist’s creativity, says that he was convinced that “not one of Dürer’s students or followers was able to achieve the virtuosity that we see in the preparatory drawing.”
The press release of the cathedral says that the figures of the two saints, “undoubtedly, were created by the artist of the Dürer circle.” So, the only question that remains open is whether Dürer himself or his workshop is the author.
But Erwin Pokorny takes a step further and says that “the question is not whether Dürer was in Vienna, but when he was here.” Meanwhile, the study of murals on the wall of St. Stephen’s Cathedral continues.
The administration of the cathedral is already planning to move the souvenir shop to another room so that nothing distracts from the contemplation of the discovered work of Dürer.
Also published on Medium.