Great Piece of Turf by Albrecht Durer

Yesterday I showed you Young Hare by Albrecht Durer. Today it is another of my favourite paintings, again by Durer - Great Piece of Turf.

Great Piece of Turf

Great Piece of Turf by Albrecht Durer 1

Great Piece of Turf by Albrecht Durer
Year 1503
Type Watercolour, pen and ink
Dimensions 40.3 cm × 31.1 cm (15 7⁄8 in × 12 1⁄4 in)
Location Albertina, Vienna 1

Great Piece of Turf (German: Das große Rasenstück) is a watercolor painting by Albrecht Dürer created at his Nuremberg workshop in 1503. It is a study of a seemingly unordered group of wild plants, including dandelion and greater plantain. The work is considered one of the masterpieces of Dürer's realistic nature studies.

The watercolour shows a large piece of turf and little else. The various plants can be identified as cock's-foot, creeping bent, smooth meadow-grass, daisy, dandelion, germander speedwell, greater plantain, hound's-tongue and yarrow.

The painting shows a great level of realism in its portrayal of natural objects.Some of the roots have been stripped of earth to be displayed clearly to the spectator. The depiction of roots is something that can also be found in other of Dürer's works, such as Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513). The vegetation comes to an end on the right side of the panel, while on the left it seems to continue on indefinitely. The background is left blank, and on the right can even be seen a clear line where the vegetation ends. 1


I particularly love this painting because it represents one of my great interest - finding order in disorder. This leads us into Chaos Theory that- within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization. 1

More on this later.

I will tell you that I so loved Durer's painting of grasses I tried to recreate it in my own style and within an Australian environment. An enormous task and I was lucky to have the guiding hand of an art tutor at the time (John Lawry). Below is my attempt which I called The Fence Post. The painting is tiny (20cm x 20cm) and it won a prize so it holds a very special place in my oeuvre.

The Fence Post

The Fence Post by Anne Newman ©