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  • Albrecht Dürer’s iconic Self-portrait and Studies of the Artist’s Hand and a Pillow (1493),

    Albrecht Dürer is German’s dominant artist from a period spanning almost 300 years in Central European development. But a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases others who shaped German, Swiss, Austrian, and early Bohemian drawings.

    The exhibition of artists were active before 1700 in the Holy Roman Empire runs from Apr. 3 through Sept. 3, 2012.

    Major artists such as Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Altdorfer, Urs Graf, Hans Holbein the Elder, Joseph Heintz the Elder, Wenzel Hollar, and Joachim von Sandrart the Elder, as well as lesser-known, but equally fascinating, draftsmen will make up the exhibit.

    Check out the works; click to enlarge.

    It’s the first to offer an extensive overview of the Metropolitan Museum’s holdings of Central European drawings, most of which were acquired over the past two decades. Among the highlights is an exceptional double-sided self-portrait by Dürer, according to the museum.

    Dürer’s “Studies of the Artist’s Hand and a Pillow” (1493), a loose collection of careful studies of the young artist’s own face, right hand and a pillow (recto), with six pillow studies reveals the artist’s delight in the folds and play of light (verso) on his compositions.

    Altdorfer’s “Samson and Delilah” (1506), among the first drawings purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in 1906, is a prime example of the Danube School of artists, who focused on the local landscape as the subject of their works of art.

    Graf, a mercenary by trade, composed a remarkable drawing, “The Standard Bearer of the Banner of the Canton Glarus.” (1521) The striking image is of a fashionably dressed soldier, a common theme during the early 16th century.

    “Nymphs and Satyrs in a Landscape” (1599 or before), is a recently discovered drawing by Heintz the Elder. He was one of the central artists at the imperial court of Rudolf II in Prague.

    The selection of drawings in the exhibition is enhanced by comparative material, including prints, illustrated books, paintings, glass roundels and decorative objects from the Museum’s collection, the Pierpont Morgan Library and private collections.

    In conjunction with the exhibition, a related installation of prints, drawings, illustrated manuscripts, woodcuts, and engravings from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection is on display in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery through May 27.

    The exhibition is organized by Curator Stijn Alsteens and Assistant Curator Freyda Spira, both of the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Drawings and Prints.