Art and the Epistolary Mode of Address in the Age of Albrecht Dürer


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Art


This dissertation argues that the experience of writing, sending, and receiving letters shaped how artists—chiefly Albrecht Dürer—conceived of the work of art as a communicative device. It presents maps, courier journals, and receipts to establish the various postal systems by which letters traveled. This archival material is considered alongside drawings, prints, and paintings that adopt different strategies for addressing their audiences—sometimes conceived as intimate relations, at other times as an anonymous public. Divided into two sections, the private letter and the open letter in print, this study describes visual images in terms of epistolary modes and captures the work of art in a moment between sending and receiving, as an object in transit, aware that it is carrying a message.