Among the very many copies and variants of one of the most celebrated and beloved Old Master Drawings, Albrecht Dürer’s Hareof 1502 at the Albertina (inv. 3073; see Koreny, op. cit., p. 132, no. 43, ill.), the earliest – and best – are those by the Nuremberg artist Hans Hoffmann and the Fleming Joris Hoefnagel, as well as an anonymous artist. Versions by Hoffmann are known at the Galleria Corsini, Rome, the J. Paul Getty Museum (inv. 2001.12), and in a private collection (Koreny, op. cit., nos. 48, 49, 47, ill.), as well as one formerly at the Kunsthalle Bremen (inv. Kl 38), now on the German art market (A. Röver-Kann, Dürer-Zeit. Die Geschichte der Dürer-Sammlung in der Kunsthalle Bremen, exhib. cat., Kunsthalle Bremen, 2012, no. 54, ill.); by or attributed to Hoefnagel are works at the National Gallery of Art (inv. 19126.96.36.199) and the Louvre (inv. RF 29072; see ibid., nos. 44, 45, ill.).
In his groundbreaking 1985 exhibition, Fritz Koreny attributed the present work to the same artist also responsible for another faithful, but larger copy after the Hareat the Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden (inv. C 1976-347; see op. cit., no. 46, ill.). According to Koreny, both the work under discussion and the drawing in Dresden are by an artist active at the Bavarian court in Munich, who, in the early seventeenth century, enlarged and embellished Hans Burgkmair’s altarpiece of 1519 with the Vision of Saint John the Evangelistat the Alte Pinakothek, Munich (inv. 685), with plants and animals, including a version of Dürer’s Hare(for the intervention of this artist, see M. Schawe, ‘Zur Geschichte und Restaurierung zweier Burgkmair-Altäre’, in Hans Burgkmair. Neue Forschungen, Passau, 2018, pp. 263-271, fig. 4). The similarities between the animals in the current work, the Dresden version, and the painting in Munich, and the differences between them and Dürer’s original, are striking: the narrow bridge of the nose, the more pointed form of the head, the bulging eyes, and the regularity of the white heightening group them together and lend credibility the attribution to the Munich anonymous artist. ‘Hardly larger than a postcard,’ writes Koreny of the drawing,’ it is, ‘thanks to the delicacy of its execution, a showpiece and keepsake of great elegance’ (Koreny, op. cit., p. 142)