Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud


Albrecht Dürer
Piper and Drummer
, c. 1503 – 1504

For whom were they playing, the musicians Albrecht Dürer portrays here? This panel is the outside of the right-hand wing of a triptych and has a pair currently in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, on which is depicted the figure of Job, weighed down by sickness and suffering. His faith is being sorely tested by the assaults of the Devil. Thus his herd has been stolen, for example (you can see the rustlers at work in the background of the Cologne panel).

The wing in the Städel Museum shows Job’s wife pouring water over her melancholic husband. The art historian Bodo Brinkmann suggested some time ago that this gesture was not one of scorn, as it had usually been seen, but rather a therapeutic measure. The triptych was probably once set up in the chapel of an early spa, known as the Hiobsbad (Job’s Bath), near Annaberg in Saxony.

The two musicians are also trying to comfort the sick Job. They are seeking to console him with their cheerful music, the rousing sound of the pipe and the stirring rhythm of the drum. Interestingly, the facial features of the drummer are Dürer’s own. Did he see himself in a similar role as painter?

Albrecht Dürer (Nuremberg 1471 – 1528 Nuremberg): Piper and Drummer, c.  1503 – 1504,. Limewood, 94 x 51 cm. Collection of Ferdinand Franz Wallraf. Inv. no. WRM 0369. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln.

Albrecht Dürer
Nuremberg 1471 1528 Nuremberg

Piper and Drummer, c.  1503 – 1504,
Limewood, 94 x 51 cm
Collection of Ferdinand Franz Wallraf
Inv. no. WRM 0369
Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln