Danish, 16th century
A Nun Standing By a Ruined Tower, 1569
ink on paper
21.6 x 14.8 cm Image: 20.8 x 13.8 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery
This delightful ink drawing, dated 1569, belongs to a series of costume studies and architectural vignettes produced by the Danish painter, engraver, and architect Melchior Lorch. Intended as a design for one of many woodcut prints to be published as a compendium showcasing European costumes from ancient and modern times, this drawing features an elderly nun wearing a long habit, cape, and veil. She is presented with bowed head and outstretched arms in a gesture of humility and grace. Lorch’s skills in draftsmanship and engraving were admired across Europe, and his prints and drawings were collected widely by the likes of Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer, and Pieter Coecke van Aelst. King Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588) appointed Lorch to the post of court painter in 1580; however, the appointment lasted only two years. An autobiographical letter that Lorch sent to Frederick II in 1563 serves as our primary biographical source for the artist.