365 Days of Art: April 21 – Serial Art Vandal Throws Acid at Five Dürer Paintings

Mater Dolorosa or Virgin of Sorrows, Albrecht Durer, 1495

April 21, 1988

Hans-Joachim Bolhmann, who we’ve met before this year, throws two bottles of sulfuric acid on five paintings by Albrecht Dürer in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek. The injured works include Lamentation for Christ, the Paumgartner Altar and Mater Dolarosa or Virgin of Sorrows.

The Virgin of Sorrows is hit directly in her face, and the acid drips down her blue gown. The varnish of the Virgin of Sorrows was thin, and the acid quickly penetrates the paint layer. The complexity of the conservation needs, and the fact that five Dürers were badly damaged, mean that conservation moves slowly. Work on the Virgin of Sorrows, the last of the Dürers to be finished, isn’t completed until 21 years later, in 2009. The damage is estimated at 35 million Euros.