The Realism of Albrecht Dürer’s "Dream"
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords: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.