The Realism of Albrecht Dürer’s "Dream"

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis


  • Giedrė Mickūnaitė Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania



Albrecht Dürer, dream, representation, mimesis


Albrecht Dürer’s painting and description of the dream he had in 1525 bears a disturbing visual, verbal and temporal accuracy that prompts studying its historical context. Scholarship has related it with apocalyptic visions of the early 16th century, astrological predictions of floods, studies of the human mind and the understanding of dreams. This article focuses on the representation of the dream and explores the paradox of mimetic rendering of what has been seen without eyes. The growing authority of eyesight related to its erroneous, yet convincing transfer onto the picture plane by the means of linear perspective has resulted in the notion of a truthful image. The veracity of mimetic pictures could be confirmed either by autopsy or mathematical calculations. Surprisingly, the representation of Dürer’s dream is a mimetic image of unverifiable reality. Moreover, caused by the anxiety of the prognosis of flood, in retrospect, the dream reveals itself as prophetic artefact, kept in suspense until it could be realized on the screen as the mimesis of imagination.

Author Biography

Giedrė Mickūnaitė, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania

is an art theorist, curator; holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in Budapest (2002). She is currently a professor and Senior Researcher in Art History at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. In her research Mickūnaitė enquires into a relation between the pictorial and textual imagery, and analyses the vocabulary of visual experiences and temporal dimensions of the images. As part of her interest in the role of memory in cultural legacy, Mickūnaitė considers memory as a means of conveying meaning, and oblivion – as a means of maintaining order. She publishes regularly in both Lithuanian and international academic publications.



How to Cite

Mickūnaitė, G. (2022). The Realism of Albrecht Dürer’s "Dream": Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (106), 262–271.