Dürer’s schemata extend beyond the borders of the various heads into the rest of the image. From an initial overview, they designate Dürer’s early and late creative phases. It must be presumed that he took his orientation from Italian portrait painting, especially that of Venice (see Italy as Model?).
The portraits shown here seem to possess an intimate closeness to reality and the fine psychological characterisation of each countenance was the subject of praise. But Dürer also undertook imperceptible interventions in order to ‘beautify’ the outer rendering of the natural model and harmonise it within the overall composition.
The constructions of the Berlin bust portrait of the city councilman Hieronymus Holzschuher and the Nuremburg mayor Jakob Muffel incorporate the picture format into their ordering structure. This can also be reconstructed in Dürer’s Portrait of the Artist’s Brother Endres in New York.
In the Holzschuher portrait a (red) line runs from the right-hand edge of the painting diagonally through the chest along the shirt and meets the opposite side of the panel. From this point it runs exactly into the upper right-hand corner of the image, forming a perfect diagonal through the planimetric construction grid.
In the Portrait of Jakob Muffel a similar ‘point’ is drawn in (and similarly connected to the linear grid). The lower side extends to the end of the right shoulder while the one running upwards grazes the forehead of the sitter beneath his cap.
For Endres, Dürer deployed a triangle with sides of various lengths. It connects the upper, lower, and right borders of the image, and two sides intersect – precisely at mid-distance – the corner of the mouth and the lower right-hand corner of the head grid, consisting of nine fields. Additionally, two sides run along the lower part of the hat.