Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer

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Albrecht Dürer (ˈalbʁɛçt ˈdyːʁɐ; 21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, and theorist from Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance
Northern Renaissance
The Northern Renaissance is the term used to describe the Renaissance in northern Europe, or more broadly in Europe outside Italy. Before 1450 Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy. From the late 15th century the ideas spread around Europe...

 ever since. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. His woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s, such as the Apocalypse series (1498), retain a more Gothic flavour than the rest of his work. His well-known works include the Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study
St. Jerome in His Study (Dürer)
St. Jerome in His Study is an engraving of 1514 by the German artist Albrecht Dürer. Saint Jerome is shown sitting behind his desk, engrossed in work. The table, on the corner of which is a cross, is typical of the Renaissance...

(1514) and Melencolia I
Melencolia I
Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer. It is an allegorical composition which has been the subject of many interpretations...

(1514), which has been the subject of extensive analysis and interpretation. His watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape art
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

ists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium.

Dürer's introduction of classical motifs
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 and German humanists
Humanism in Germany
Renaissance Humanism came much later to Germany and Northern Europe in general than to Italy, and when it did, it encountered some resistance from the scholastic theology which reigned at the universities.-Origins:...

, has secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions
Body proportions
While there is significant variation in anatomical proportions between people, there are many references to body proportions that are intended to be canonical, either in art, measurement, or medicine....

.

Early life (1471–90)


Dürer was born on 21 May 1471, third child and second son of his parents, who had between fourteen and eighteen children. His father was a successful goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

, originally named Ajtósi, who in 1455 had moved to Nuremberg from Ajtós, near Gyula in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

. The German name "Dürer" is derived from the Hungarian, "Ajtósi". Initially, it was "Thürer," meaning doormaker, which is "ajtós" in Hungarian (from "ajtó", meaning door). A door is featured in the coat-of-arms the family acquired. Albrecht Dürer the Younger later changed "Türer", his father's diction of the family's surname, to "Dürer", to adapt to the local Nuremberg dialect. Albrecht Dürer the Elder married Barbara Holper, the daughter of his master, when he himself became a master in 1467.

Dürer's godfather was Anton Koberger
Anton Koberger
Anton Koberger was the German goldsmith, printer and publisher who printed and published the Nuremberg Chronicle, a landmark of incunabula, and was a successful bookseller of works from other printers...

, who left goldsmithing to become a printer and publisher in the year of Dürer's birth. He quickly became the most successful publisher in Germany, eventually owning twenty-four printing-presses and having many offices in Germany and abroad. His most famous publication was the Nuremberg Chronicle
Nuremberg Chronicle
right|thumbnail|240px|Fifth dayThe Nuremberg Chronicle is an illustrated Biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible; it includes the histories of a number of important Western cities. Written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel, with a version in...

,
published in 1493 in German and Latin editions. It contained an unprecedented 1,809 woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

 illustrations (with many repeated uses of the same block) by the Wolgemut workshop. Dürer may well have worked on some of these, as the work on the project began while he was with Wolgemut.

Because Dürer left autobiographical writings and became very famous by his mid-twenties, his life is well documented by several sources. After a few years of school, Dürer started to learn the basics of goldsmithing and drawing from his father. Though his father wanted him to continue his training as a goldsmith, he showed such a precocious talent in drawing that he started as an apprentice to Michael Wolgemut
Michael Wolgemut
Michael Wolgemut was a German painter and printmaker, born in Nuremberg.-Biography:Little is known of Wolgemut's private life...

 at the age of fifteen in 1486. A self-portrait, a drawing in silverpoint
Silverpoint
Silverpoint is a traditional drawing technique first used by Medieval scribes on manuscripts.-History:A silverpoint drawing is made by dragging a silver rod or wire across a surface, often prepared with gesso or primer. Silverpoint is one of several types of metalpoint used by scribes, craftsmen...

, is dated 1484 (Albertina, Vienna
Albertina, Vienna
The Albertina is a museum in the Innere Stadt of Vienna, Austria. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings...

) “when I was a child," as his later inscription says. Wolgemut was the leading artist in Nuremberg at the time, with a large workshop producing a variety of works of art, in particular woodcuts for books. Nuremberg was then an important and prosperous city, a centre for publishing and many luxury trades. It had strong links with Italy, especially Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, a relatively short distance across the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

.

Wanderjahre and marriage (1490–94)


After completing his term of apprenticeship, Dürer followed the common German custom of taking Wanderjahre—in effect gap year
Gap year
An expression or phrase that is associated with taking time out to travel in between life stages. It is also known as sabbatical, time off and time out that refers to a period of time in which students disengage from curricular education and undertake non curricular activities, such as travel or...

—in which the apprentice learned skills from artists in other areas; Dürer was to spend about four years away. He left in 1490, possibly to work under Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer was a German engraver and painter. He was the most important German printmaker before Albrecht Dürer....

, the leading engraver of Northern Europe, but who died shortly before Dürer's arrival at Colmar
Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

 in 1492. It is unclear where Dürer travelled in the intervening period, though it is likely that he went to Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. In Colmar, Dürer was welcomed by Schongauer's brothers, the goldsmiths Caspar and Paul and the painter Ludwig. In 1493 Dürer went to Strasbourg, where he would have experienced the sculpture of Nikolaus Gerhaert
Nikolaus Gerhaert
Nikolaus Gerhaert , also known as Nikolaus Gerhaert von Leyden, was a sculptor of Dutch origin, although aside from his sculptures, few details are known of his life.- Biography :...

. Dürer's first painted self-portrait (now in the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

) was painted at this time, probably to be sent back to his fiancée in Nuremberg.

In early 1492 Dürer travelled to Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 to stay with another brother of Martin Schongauer, the goldsmith Georg. Very soon after his return to Nuremberg, on 7 July 1494, at the age of 23, Dürer was married to Agnes Frey following an arrangement made during his absence. Agnes was the daughter of a prominent brass worker (and amateur harpist) in the city. However, no children resulted from the marriage.

First journey to Italy (1494–95)



Within three months Dürer left for Italy, alone, perhaps stimulated by an outbreak of plague
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 in Nuremberg. He made watercolour sketches as he traveled over the Alps. Some have survived and others may be deduced from accurate landscapes of real places in his later work, for example his engraving Nemesis. These are the first pure landscape studies known in Western art.

In Italy, he went to Venice to study its more advanced artistic world. Through Wolgemut's tutelage, Dürer had learned how to make prints in drypoint
Drypoint
Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used...

 and design woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s in the German style, based on the works of Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer
Martin Schongauer was a German engraver and painter. He was the most important German printmaker before Albrecht Dürer....

 and the Housebook Master. He also would have had access to some Italian works in Germany, but the two visits he made to Italy had an enormous influence on him. He wrote that Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini, and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it...

 was the oldest and still the best of the artists in Venice. His drawings and engravings show the influence of others, notably Antonio Pollaiuolo
Antonio Pollaiuolo
Antonio del Pollaiolo , also known as Antonio di Jacopo Pollaiuolo or Antonio Pollaiolo, was an Italian painter, sculptor, engraver and goldsmith during the Renaissance.-Biography:...

 with his interest in the proportions of the body, Mantegna, Lorenzo di Credi
Lorenzo di Credi
Lorenzo di Credi was an Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor. He first influenced Leonardo da Vinci and then was greatly influenced by him.-Life:...

 and others. Dürer probably also visited Padua and Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

 on this trip.

Return to Nuremberg (1495–1505)


On his return to Nuremberg in 1495, Dürer opened his own workshop (being married was a requirement for this). Over the next five years his style increasingly integrated Italian influences into underlying Northern forms. Dürer's father died in 1502, and his mother died soon after in 1513. His best works in the first years of the workshop were his woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

 prints, mostly religious, but including secular scenes such as The Men's Bath House (ca. 1496). These were larger than the great majority of German woodcuts hitherto, and far more complex and balanced in composition.

It is now thought unlikely that Dürer cut any of the woodblocks himself; this task would have been performed by a specialist craftsman. However, his training in Wolgemut's studio, which made many carved and painted altarpieces and both designed and cut woodblocks for woodcut, evidently gave him great understanding of what the technique could be made to produce, and how to work with block cutters. Dürer either drew his design directly onto the woodblock itself, or glued a paper drawing to the block. Either way, his drawings were destroyed during the cutting of the block.

His famous series of sixteen great designs for the Apocalypse are dated 1498, as is his engraving of St. Michael Fighting the Dragon
St. Michael Fighting the Dragon-Albrecht Durer
Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon is a woodcut of 1498 by Apocalypse , part of the Apocalypse series that brought the young artist international fame....

. He made the first seven scenes of the Great Passion in the same year, and a little later, a series of eleven on the Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...

 and saints. The Seven Sorrows Polyptych, commissioned by Frederick III of Saxony
Frederick III, Elector of Saxony
Frederick III of Saxony , also known as Frederick the Wise , was Elector of Saxony from 1486 to his death. Frederick was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Albert III, Duke of Bavaria...

 in 1496, was executed by Dürer and his assistants c. 1500. Around 1503–1505 he produced the first seventeen of a set illustrating the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

, which he did not finish for some years. Neither these, nor the Great Passion, were published as sets until several years later, but prints were sold individually in considerable numbers.

During the same period Dürer trained himself in the difficult art of using the burin to make engravings. It is possible he had begun learning this skill during his early training with his father, as it was also an essential skill of the goldsmith. In 1496 he executed the Prodigal Son, which the Italian Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 singled out for praise some decades later, noting its Germanic quality. He was soon producing some spectacular and original images, notably Nemesis (1502), The Sea Monster (1498), and Saint Eustace (c. 1501), with a highly detailed landscape background and animals. He made a number of Madonna
Madonna (art)
Images of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child or Virgin and Child are pictorial or sculptured representations of Mary, Mother of Jesus, either alone, or more frequently, with the infant Jesus. These images are central icons of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity where Mary remains...

s, single religious figures, and small scenes with comic peasant figures. Prints are highly portable and these works made Dürer famous throughout the main artistic centres of Europe within a very few years.

The Venetian artist Jacopo de' Barbari
Jacopo de' Barbari
Jacopo de' Barbari, sometimes known or referred to as de'Barbari, de Barberi, de Barbari, Barbaro, Barberino, Barbarigo or Barberigo , was an Italian painter and printmaker with a highly individual style. He moved from Venice to Germany in 1500, thus becoming the first Italian Renaissance artist...

, whom Dürer had met in Venice, visited Nuremberg in 1500, and Dürer said that he learned much about the new developments in perspective
Perspective (graphical)
Perspective in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface , of an image as it is seen by the eye...

, anatomy
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

, and proportion
Body proportions
While there is significant variation in anatomical proportions between people, there are many references to body proportions that are intended to be canonical, either in art, measurement, or medicine....

 from him. He was unwilling to explain everything he knew, so Dürer began his own studies, which would become a lifelong preoccupation. A series of extant drawings show Dürer's experiments in human proportion, leading to the famous engraving of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve (Dürer)
Adam and Eve is a pair of oil-on-panel paintings by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.Completed in 1507, the work followed a 1504 copper engraving by Dürer on the same subject, one which offered Durer the opportunity to depict the ideal human figure. Painted in Nuremberg soon after his...

(1504), which shows his subtlety while using the burin in the texturing of flesh surfaces. This is the only existing engraving signed with his full name.

Dürer made large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings, and many survive, most famously the Betende Hände
Betende Hände
Betende Hände, in English Praying hands , is a famous Pen-and-ink drawing by the German printmaker, painter and theorist Albrecht Dürer made circa 1508. The artwork is stored at Albertina museum — Graphische Sammlung in Vienna, Austria...

(English: Praying Hands, c. 1508 Albertina, Vienna
Albertina, Vienna
The Albertina is a museum in the Innere Stadt of Vienna, Austria. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings...

), a study for an apostle in the Heller altarpiece. He also continued to make images in watercolour and bodycolour (usually combined), including a number of still lifes of meadow sections or animals, including his Young Hare
Young Hare
Young Hare is a 1502 watercolour and bodycolour painting by German artist Albrecht Dürer. Painted in 1502 in his workshop, it is acknowledged as a masterpiece of observational art alongside his Great Piece of Turf from the following year...

(1502) and the Great Piece of Turf
Great Piece of Turf
The Great Piece of Turf is a watercolor painting by Albrecht Dürer. The painting was created at Dürer's workshop in Nuremberg in 1503. It is a study of a seemingly random group of wild plants, including dandelion and greater plantain...

(1503, both also Albertina).

Second journey to Italy (1505–1507)



In Italy, he returned to painting, at first producing a series of works executed in tempera
Tempera
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium . Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist...

 on linen
Linen
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

. These include portraits and altarpieces, notably, the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi
Adoration of the Magi in Art
The Adoration of the Magi is the name traditionally given to the Christian subject in the Nativity of Jesus in art in which the three Magi, represented as kings, especially in the West, having found Jesus by following a star, lay before him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worship him...

. In early 1506, he returned to Venice and stayed there until the spring of 1507. By this time Dürer's engravings had attained great popularity and were being copied. In Venice he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of San Bartolomeo. This was the altar-piece known as the Adoration of the Virgin or the Feast of Rose Garlands. It includes portraits of members of Venice's German community, but shows a strong Italian influence. It was subsequently acquired by the Emperor Rudolf II
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
Rudolf II was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Hungary and Croatia , King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria...

 and taken to Prague. Other paintings Dürer produced in Venice include The Virgin and Child with the Goldfinch, Christ Disputing with the Doctors (supposedly produced in a mere five days), and a number of smaller works.

Nuremberg and the masterworks (1507–1520)


Despite the regard in which he was held by the Venetians, Dürer returned to Nuremberg by mid-1507, remaining in Germany until 1520. His reputation had spread throughout Europe and he was on friendly terms and in communication with most of the major artists including Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

, Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini, and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it...

 and — mainly through Lorenzo di Credi
Lorenzo di Credi
Lorenzo di Credi was an Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor. He first influenced Leonardo da Vinci and then was greatly influenced by him.-Life:...

 — Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

.

Between 1507 and 1511 Dürer worked on some of his most celebrated paintings: Adam and Eve (1507), The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1508, for Frederick of Saxony), Virgin with the Iris (1508), the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin (1509, for Jacob Heller of Frankfurt), and Adoration of the Trinity
Adoration of the Trinity
Adoration of the Trinity is a oil-on-panel painting by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, executed in 1511 and currently housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.-History:The work was commissioned by the rich merchant Matthäus Landauer of Nuremberg, for a chapel...

(1511, for Matthaeus Landauer). During this period he also completed two woodcut series, the Great Passion and the Life of the Virgin, both published in 1511 together with a second edition of the Apocalypse series. The post-Venetian woodcuts show Dürer's development of chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

 modelling effects, creating a mid-tone throughout the print to which the highlights and shadows can be contrasted.

Other works from this period include the thirty-seven woodcut subjects of the Little Passion, published first in 1511, and a set of fifteen small engravings on the same theme in 1512. Indeed, complaining that painting did not make enough money to justify the time spent when compared to his prints, he produced no paintings from 1513 to 1516. However, in 1513 and 1514 Dürer created his three most famous engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

s: Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513, probably based on Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

's treatise Enichiridion militis Christiani), St. Jerome in his Study
St. Jerome in His Study (Dürer)
St. Jerome in His Study is an engraving of 1514 by the German artist Albrecht Dürer. Saint Jerome is shown sitting behind his desk, engrossed in work. The table, on the corner of which is a cross, is typical of the Renaissance...

, and the much-debated Melencolia I
Melencolia I
Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer. It is an allegorical composition which has been the subject of many interpretations...

(both 1514).

In 1515, he created his woodcut of a Rhinoceros
Dürer's Rhinoceros
Dürer's Rhinoceros is the name commonly given to a woodcut executed by German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer in 1515. The image was based on a written description and brief sketch by an unknown artist of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon earlier that year. Dürer never saw the...

which had arrived in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 from a written description and sketch by another artist, without ever seeing the animal himself. An image of the Indian rhinoceros
Indian Rhinoceros
The Indian Rhinoceros is also called Greater One-horned Rhinoceros and Asian One-horned Rhinoceros and belongs to the Rhinocerotidae family...

, the image has such force that it remains one of his best-known and was still used in some German school science text-books as late as last century. In the years leading to 1520 he produced a wide range of works, including the woodblocks for the first western printed star charts in 1515 and portraits in tempera
Tempera
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium . Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist...

 on linen
Linen
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

 in 1516.

Patronage of Maximilian I


From 1512, Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

, became Dürer's major patron. His commissions included The Triumphal Arch, a vast work printed from 192 separate blocks, the symbolism of which is partly informed by Pirckheimer's translation of Horapollo
Horapollo
Horapollo is supposed author of a treatise on Egyptian hieroglyphs, extant in a Greek translation by one Philippus, titled Hieroglyphica, dating to about the 5th century.-Horapollo:...

's Hieroglyphica. The design program and explanations were devised by Johannes Stabius
Johannes Stabius
Johannes Stabius was an Austrian cartographer of Vienna who developed, around 1500, the heart-shape projection map later developed further by Johannes Werner. It is called the Werner map projection, but also the Stabius-Werner or the Stab-Werner projection...

, the architectural design by the master builder and court-painter Jörg Kölderer and the woodcutting itself by Hieronymous Andreae, with Dürer as designer-in-chief. The Arch was followed by the Triumphal Procession, the program of which was worked out in 1512 by Marx Treitz-Saurwein and includes woodcuts by Albrecht Altdorfer
Albrecht Altdorfer
Albrecht Altdorfer was a German painter, printmaker and architect of the Renaissance era.-Biography:Altdorfer was born in Regensburg or Altdorf around 1480....

 and Hans Springinklee
Hans Springinklee
Hans Springinklee was a German artist from Nuremberg, best known for his woodcuts. He was a pupil of Albrecht Dürer.-Life:...

, as well as Dürer.

Dürer worked in pen on the marginal images for an edition of the Emperor's printed Prayer-Book; these were quite unknown until facsimiles were published in 1808 as part of the first book published in lithography
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

. Dürer's work on the book was halted for an unknown reason, and the decoration was continued by artists including Lucas Cranach the Elder
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Lucas Cranach the Elder , was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving...

 and Hans Baldung
Hans Baldung
Hans Baldung, known as Hans Baldung Grien/Grün was a German Renaissance artist in painting and printmaking in woodcut. He was considered the most gifted student of Albrecht Dürer.-Life:...

. Dürer also made several portraits of the Emperor, including one shortly before Maximilian's death in 1519.

Journey to the Netherlands (1520–21)


Maximilian's sudden death came at a time when Dürer was concerned he was losing "my sight and freedom of hand" (perhaps caused by arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

) and increasingly affected by the writings of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

. In July 1520 Dürer made his fourth and last major journey, to renew the Imperial pension Maximilian had given him and to secure the patronage of the new emperor, Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, who was to be crowned at Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

. Dürer journeyed with his wife and her maid via the Rhine to Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 and then to Antwerp, where he was well-received and produced numerous drawings in silverpoint
Silverpoint
Silverpoint is a traditional drawing technique first used by Medieval scribes on manuscripts.-History:A silverpoint drawing is made by dragging a silver rod or wire across a surface, often prepared with gesso or primer. Silverpoint is one of several types of metalpoint used by scribes, craftsmen...

, chalk and charcoal. In addition to going to the coronation, he made excursions to Cologne (where he admired the painting of Stefan Lochner
Stefan Lochner
thumb|300px|Madonna in the Rose Bower .Stefan Lochner was a German late Gothic painter.His style, famous for its clean appearance, combined Gothic attention towards long flowing lines with brilliant colours with a Flemish influenced realism and attention to detail...

), Nijmegen, 's-Hertogenbosch, Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 (where he saw Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

's Madonna of Bruges
Madonna of Bruges
The Madonna of Bruges is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo, of Mary with the infant Jesus.Michelangelo's depiction of the Madonna and Child differs significantly from earlier representations of the same subject, which tended to feature a pious Virgin smiling down on an infant held in her arms...

), Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 (where he admired van Eyck
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and considered one of the best Northern European painters of the 15th century....

's altarpiece), and Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

.

Dürer took a large stock of prints with him and wrote in his diary to whom he gave, exchanged or sold them, and for how much. This provides rare information of the monetary value placed on prints at this time. Unlike paintings, their sale was very rarely documented. While providing valuable documentary evidence, Dürer's Netherlandish diary also reveals that the trip was not a profitable one. For example, Dürer offered his last portrait of Maximilian to his daughter, Margaret of Austria, but eventually traded the picture for some white cloth after Margaret disliked the portrait and declined to accept it. During this trip he also met Bernard van Orley
Bernard van Orley
Bernard van Orley , also called Barend or Barent van Orley, Bernaert van Orley or Barend van Brussel, was a Flemish Northern Renaissance painter and draughtsman, and also a leading designer of tapestries and stained glass...

, Jean Prevost
Jean Prévost
Jean Prévost was a French writer , journalist, and Resistance fighter.Born in Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours, Prévost was educated at the primary school in Montivilliers. near Rouen, where his father was principal. In 1911, he moved to the prestidigious Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen...

, Gerard Horenbout
Gerard Horenbout
Gerard Horenbout was a Flemish miniaturist, a late example of the Flemish Primitives. He has been identified with the Master of James IV of Scotland.-Biography:...

, Jean Mone
Jean Mone
Jean Mone was a German-Flemish sculptor, summoned from Spain to the Netherlands by roman emperor Charles V in 1520. He worked to introduce Italian Renaissance style to Flemish sculpture. Mone spent most of his career in the Netherlands and worked in Brussels, Antwerp and Mechelen. The high altar...

, Joachim Patinir
Joachim Patinir
Joachim Patinir, also called de Patiner , was a Flemish Northern Renaissance history and landscape painter from the area of modern Wallonia...

 & Tommaso Vincidor
Tommaso Vincidor
Tommaso di Andrea Vincidor was an Italian Renaissance painter and architect who trained with Raphael and spent most of his career in the Netherlands. He was also called Tommaso Vincitore, Tommaso da Bologna and Thomas Polonais .He was the pupil of Raphael, whom he helped in the execution of the...

, though he did not, it seems, meet Quentin Matsys
Quentin Matsys
Quentin Matsys was a painter in the Flemish tradition and a founder of the Antwerp school. He was born at Leuven, where legend states he was trained as an ironsmith before becoming a painter...

.

At the request of Christian II of Denmark
Christian II of Denmark
Christian II was King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden , during the Kalmar Union.-Background:...

 Dürer went to Brussels to paint the King's portrait. There he saw "the things which have been sent to the king from the golden land"—the Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 treasure that Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 had sent home to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V following the fall of Mexico. Dürer wrote that this treasure "was much more beautiful to me than miracles. These things are so precious that they have been valued at 100,000 florins". Dürer also appears to have been collecting for his own cabinet of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer...

, and he sent back to Nuremberg various animal horns, a piece of coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

, some large fish fins, and a wooden weapon from the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

.

Having secured his pension, Dürer finally returned home in July 1521, having caught an undetermined illness—perhaps malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 —which afflicted him for the rest of his life, and greatly reduced his rate of work.

Final years in Nuremberg (1521–28)


On his return to Nuremberg, Dürer worked on a number of grand projects with religious themes, including a crucifixion scene and a Sacra Conversazione
Sacra conversazione
In art, a sacra conversazione or sacred conversation is a depiction of the Virgin and Child amidst a group of saints in a relatively informal grouping, as opposed to the more rigid and hierarchical compositions of earlier periods...

, though neither was completed. This may have been in part to his declining health, but perhaps also because of the time he gave to the preparation of his theoretical works on geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 and perspective, the proportions
Body proportions
While there is significant variation in anatomical proportions between people, there are many references to body proportions that are intended to be canonical, either in art, measurement, or medicine....

 of men and horses, and fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

.
However, one consequence of this shift in emphasis was that during the last years of his life, Dürer produced comparatively little as an artist. In painting, there was only a portrait of Hieronymus Holtzschuher, a Madonna and Child (1526), Salvator Mundi (1526), and two panels showing St. John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 with St. Peter in background and St. Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 with St. Mark
Mark the Evangelist
Mark the Evangelist is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main sees of Christianity....

 in the background. This last great work, the Four Apostles
The Four Apostles
The Four Apostles is a panel painting by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer. It was finished in 1526, the last of his large works. It depicts the four apostles larger-than-life-size. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian I obtained The Four Apostles in the year 1627 due to pressure on the...

, was given by Dürer to the City of Nuremberg—although he was given 100 guilders in return. An inscription relates the figures to the four humours
Four humours
Four Temperaments is a theory of proto-psychology that stems from the ancient medical concept of humorism and suggests that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors.- History and development :...

.

As for engravings, Dürer's work was restricted to portraits and illustrations for his treatise. The portraits include Cardinal-Elector Albert of Mainz
Albert of Mainz
Cardinal Albert of Hohenzollern was Elector and Archbishop of Mainz from 1514 to 1545, and Archbishop of Magdeburg from 1513 to 1545.-Biography:...

; Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony; the humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 scholar Willibald Pirckheimer
Willibald Pirckheimer
Willibald Pirckheimer was a German Renaissance lawyer, author and Renaissance humanist, a wealthy and prominent figure in Nuremberg in the 16th century, and a member of the governing City Council for two periods...

; Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

, and Erasmus of Rotterdam
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

. For those of the Cardinal
Albert of Mainz
Cardinal Albert of Hohenzollern was Elector and Archbishop of Mainz from 1514 to 1545, and Archbishop of Magdeburg from 1513 to 1545.-Biography:...

, Melanchthon, and Dürer's final major work, a drawn portrait of the Nuremberg patrician Ulrich Starck, Dürer depicted the sitters in profile, perhaps reflecting a more mathematical approach.

Despite complaining of his lack of a formal classical education Dürer was greatly interested in intellectual matters and learned much from his boyhood friend Willibald Pirckheimer
Willibald Pirckheimer
Willibald Pirckheimer was a German Renaissance lawyer, author and Renaissance humanist, a wealthy and prominent figure in Nuremberg in the 16th century, and a member of the governing City Council for two periods...

, whom he no doubt consulted on the content of many of his images. He also derived great satisfaction from his friendships and correspondence with Erasmus and other scholars. Dürer succeeded in producing two books during his lifetime. "The Four Books on Measurement" were published at Nuremberg in 1525 and was the first book for adults on mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 in German, as well as being cited later by Galileo and Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

. The other, a work on city fortifications, was published in 1527. "The Four Books on Human Proportion" were published posthumously, shortly after his death in 1528 at the age of fifty-six.

Dürer died in Nuremberg at the age of 56, leaving an estate valued at 6,874 florins—a considerable sum. His large house (purchased in 1509 from the heirs of the astronomer Bernhard Walther), where his workshop was located and where his widow lived until her death in 1539, remains a prominent Nuremberg landmark. It is now a museum. He is buried in the Johannisfriedhof cemetery.

Dürer and the Reformation


Dürer's writings suggest that he may have been sympathetic to Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's ideas, though it is unclear if he ever left the Catholic Church. Dürer wrote of his desire to draw Luther in his diary in 1520: "And God help me that I may go to Dr. Martin Luther; thus I intend to make a portrait of him with great care and engrave him on a copper plate to create a lasting memorial of the Christian man who helped me overcome so many difficulties." In a letter to Nicholas Kratzer
Nicholas Kratzer
Nicholas Kratzer was a German mathematician, astronomer and horologist. Much of Kratzer's professional life was spent in England where he was appointed astronomer to King Henry VIII....

 in 1524 Dürer wrote "because of our Christian faith we have to stand in scorn and danger, for we are reviled and called heretics." Most tellingly, Pirckheimer wrote in a letter to Johann Tscherte in 1530: "I confess that in the beginning I believed in Luther, like our Albert of blessed memory...but as anyone can see, the situation has become worse." Dürer may even have contributed to the Nuremberg City Council mandating Lutheran sermons and services in March 1525. Notably, Dürer had contacts with various reformers, such as Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

, Andreas Karlstadt
Andreas Karlstadt
Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt , better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Andreas Carlstadt or Karolostadt, was a German Christian theologian during the Protestant Reformation. He was born in Karlstadt, Franconia.-Education:Karlstadt received his doctorate of theology in 1510 from the...

, Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

, Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

 and Cornelius Grapheus from whom Dürer received Luther's 'Babylonian Captivity' in 1520.

Dürer's later works have also been claimed to show Protestant sympathies. For example, his engraving of The Last Supper of 1523 has often been understood to have an evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 theme, focussing as it does on Christ espousing the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

, as well the inclusion of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

ic cup, an expression of Protestant utraquism, although this interpretation has been questioned. The delaying of the engraving of St Philip
Philip the Apostle
Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia....

, completed in 1523 but not distributed until 1526, may have been due to Dürer's uneasiness with images of Saints; even if Dürer was not an iconoclast
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

, in his last years he evaluated and questioned the role of art in religion.

Legacy and influence


Dürer exerted a huge influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking, the medium through which his contemporaries mostly experienced his art, as his paintings were predominately in private collections located in only a few cities. His success in spreading his reputation across Europe through prints was undoubtedly an inspiration for major artists such as Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

, Titian
Titian
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near...

, and Parmigianino
Parmigianino
Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola , also known as Francesco Mazzola or more commonly as Parmigianino or sometimes "Parmigiano", was an Italian Mannerist painter and printmaker active in Florence, Rome, Bologna, and his native city of Parma...

, who entered into collaborations with printmakers to distribute their work beyond their local region.

His work in engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 seems to have had an intimidating effect upon his German successors, the "Little Masters
Little Masters
The Little Masters , were a group of German printmakers who worked in the first half of the 16th century, primarily in engraving. They specialized in very small finely detailed prints, some no larger than a postage stamp...

" who attempted few large engravings but continued Dürer's themes in small, rather cramped compositions. Lucas van Leyden
Lucas van Leyden
Lucas van Leyden , also named either Lucas Hugensz or Lucas Jacobsz, was a Dutch engraver and painter, born and mainly active in Leiden...

 was the only Northern European engraver to successfully continue to produce large engravings in the first third of the century. The generation of Italian engravers who trained in the shadow of Dürer all either directly copied parts of his landscape backgrounds (Giulio Campagnola
Giulio Campagnola
Giulio Campagnola was an Italian engraver and painter, whose few, rare, prints translated the rich Venetian Renaissance style of oil paintings of Giorgione and the early Titian into the medium of engraving; to further his exercises in gradations of tone, he also invented the stipple technique...

 and Christofano Robetta), or whole prints (Marcantonio Raimondi
Marcantonio Raimondi
Marcantonio Raimondi, also simply Marcantonio, was an Italian engraver, known for being the first important printmaker whose body of work consists mainly of prints copying paintings. He is therefore a key figure in the rise of the reproductive print...

 and Agostino Veneziano
Agostino Veneziano
Agostino Veneziano, whose real name was Agostino de' Musi, was an important and prolific Italian engraver of the Renaissance.-Life:...

). However, Dürer's influence became less dominant after 1515, when Marcantonio perfected his new engraving style, which in turn traveled over the Alps to dominate Northern engraving also.

In painting, Dürer had relatively little influence in Italy, where probably only his altarpiece in Venice was seen, and his German successors were less effective in blending German and Italian styles. His intense and self-dramatizing self-portraits have continued to have a strong influence up to the present, and have been blamed for some of the wilder excesses of artists' self-portraiture, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Dürer has never fallen from critical favour, and there have been revivals of interest in his works Germany in the Dürer Renaissance of about 1570 to 1630, in the early nineteenth century, and in German nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 from 1870 to 1945.

Theoretical works


In all his theoretical works, in order to communicate his theories in the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, rather than Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Dürer used graphic expressions based on a vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

, craftsmen's language. For example, 'Schneckenlinie' ('snail-line') was his term for a spiral form. Thus Dürer contributed to the expansion in German prose which Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 had begun with his translation of the Bible
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

.

Four Books on Measurement


Dürer's work on geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 is called the Four Books on Measurement (Underweysung der Messung mit dem Zirckel und Richtscheyt). The first book focuses on linear geometry. Dürer's geometric constructions include helices, conchoids
Conchoid (mathematics)
A conchoid is a curve derived from a fixed point O, another curve, and a length d. For every line through O that intersects the given curve at A the two points on the line which are d from A are on the conchoid. The conchoid is, therefore, the cissoid of a circle with center O and the given curve...

 and epicycloid
Epicycloid
In geometry, an epicycloid is a plane curve produced by tracing the path of a chosen point of a circle — called an epicycle — which rolls without slipping around a fixed circle...

s. He also draws on Apollonius
Apollonius of Perga
Apollonius of Perga [Pergaeus] was a Greek geometer and astronomer noted for his writings on conic sections. His innovative methodology and terminology, especially in the field of conics, influenced many later scholars including Ptolemy, Francesco Maurolico, Isaac Newton, and René Descartes...

, and Johannes Werner
Johannes Werner
Johann Werner was a German parish priest in Nuremberg and a mathematician...

's 'Libellus super viginti duobus elementis conicis' of 1522. The second book moves onto two dimensional geometry, i.e. the construction of regular polygons. Here Dürer favours the methods of Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 over Euclid
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

. The third book applies these principles of geometry to architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 and typography
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

. In architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 Dürer cites Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 but elaborates his own classical designs and columns. In typography
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

, Dürer depicts the geometric construction of the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, relying on Italian precedent. However, his construction of the Gothic alphabet
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

 is based upon an entirely different modular system. The fourth book completes the progression of the first and second by moving to three-dimensional forms and the construction of polyhedra. Here Dürer discusses the five Platonic solid
Platonic solid
In geometry, a Platonic solid is a convex polyhedron that is regular, in the sense of a regular polygon. Specifically, the faces of a Platonic solid are congruent regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex; thus, all its edges are congruent, as are its vertices and...

s, as well as seven Archimedean
Archimedean
Archimedean means of or pertaining to or named in honor of the Greek mathematician Archimedes. These are most commonly:* Archimedean property* Archimedean absolute value* Archimedean solid* Archimedean point* Archimedean tiling* Archimedean spiral...

 semi-regular solids, as well as several of his own invention. In all these, Dürer shows the objects as nets
Net (polyhedron)
In geometry the net of a polyhedron is an arrangement of edge-joined polygons in the plane which can be folded to become the faces of the polyhedron...

. Finally, Dürer discusses the Delian Problem
Doubling the cube
Doubling the cube is one of the three most famous geometric problems unsolvable by compass and straightedge construction...

  and moves on to the 'construzione legittima', a method of depicting a cube in two dimensions through linear perspective. It was in Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 that Dürer was taught (possibly by Luca Pacioli
Luca Pacioli
Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli was an Italian mathematician, Franciscan friar, collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci, and seminal contributor to the field now known as accounting...

 or Bramante) the principles of linear perspective, and evidently became familiar with the 'costruzione legittima' in a written description of these principles found only, at this time, in the unpublished treatise of Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca was a painter of the Early Renaissance. As testified by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists, to contemporaries he was also known as a mathematician and geometer. Nowadays Piero della Francesca is chiefly appreciated for his art. His painting was characterized by its...

. He was also familiar with the 'abbreviated construction' as described by Alberti and the geometrical construction of shadows, a technique of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

. Although Dürer made no innovations in these areas, he is notable as the first Northern European to treat matters of visual representation in a scientific way, and with understanding of Euclidean principles. In addition to these geometrical constructions, Dürer discusses in this last book of Underweysung der Messung an assortment of mechanisms for drawing in perspective from models and provides woodcut illustrations of these methods that are often reproduced in discussions of perspective.

Four Books on Human Proportion



Dürer's work on human proportions
Body proportions
While there is significant variation in anatomical proportions between people, there are many references to body proportions that are intended to be canonical, either in art, measurement, or medicine....

 is called the Four Books on Human Proportion (Vier Bücher von Menschlicher Proportion) of 1528. The first book was mainly composed by 1512/13 and completed by 1523, showing five differently constructed types of both male and female figures, all parts of the body expressed in fractions of the total height. Dürer based these constructions on both Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 and empirical observations of, "two to three hundred living persons," in his own words. The second book includes eight further types, broken down not into fractions but an Albertian
Leone Battista Alberti
Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer and general Renaissance humanist polymath...

 system, which Dürer probably learned from Francesco di Giorgio
Francesco di Giorgio
Francesco di Giorgio Martini was an Italian painter of the Sienese School and a sculptor, as well as being, in Nikolaus Pevsner's terms, "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento architects'" and a visionary architectural theorist; as a military engineer he executed architectural designs and...

's 'De harmonica mundi totius' of 1525. In the third book, Dürer gives principles by which the proportions of the figures can be modified, including the mathematical simulation of convex and concave mirrors; here Dürer also deals with human physiognomy
Physiognomy
Physiognomy is the assessment of a person's character or personality from their outer appearance, especially the face...

. The fourth book is devoted to the theory of movement.

Appended to the last book, however, is a self contained essay on aesthetics, which Dürer worked on between 1512 and 1528, and it is here that we learn of his theories concerning 'ideal beauty'. Dürer rejected Alberti's concept of an objective beauty, proposing a relativist notion of beauty based on variety. Nonetheless, Dürer still believed that truth was hidden within nature, and that there were rules which ordered beauty, even though he found it difficult to define the criteria for such a code. In 1512/13 his three criteria were function ('Nutz'), naïve approval ('Wohlgefallen') and the happy medium ('Mittelmass'). However, unlike Alberti and Leonardo, Dürer was most troubled by understanding not just the abstract notions of beauty but as to how an artist can create beautiful images. Between 1512 and the final draft in 1528, Dürer's belief developed from an understanding of human creativity as spontaneous or inspired
Artistic inspiration
Inspiration refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. Literally, the word means "breathed upon," and it has its origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism. The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses, as well as the gods Apollo and...

 to a concept of 'selective inward synthesis'. In other words, that an artist builds on a wealth of visual experiences in order to imagine beautiful things. Dürer's belief in the abilities of a single artist over inspiration prompted him to assert that "one man may sketch something with his pen on half a sheet of paper in one day, or may cut it into a tiny piece of wood with his little iron, and it turns out to be better and more artistic than another's work at which its author labours with the utmost diligence for a whole year."

List of Paintings

  • Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman
  • Self Portrait at 22
  • Self Portrait at 26
  • Adam and Eve
  • Self Portrait at 28
  • Feast of the Rose Garlands
  • Four Apostles
  • Adoration of the Trinity
  • Heller Altar
  • Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand
  • The seven Sorrows of the Virgin
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Portrait of the Artist's Father
  • Portrait of the Artist's Father at 70
  • Jabach Altarpiece
  • Apostle Philip
  • Emperors Charlemagne and Sigismund
  • Christ among the doctors
  • Alliance Coat of Arms of the Durer and Holper Families
  • Paumgartner Altarpiece
  • Hans Tucher
  • Virgin and Child with half a pear
  • Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I
  • Apostle James
  • Portrait of Barbara Durer
  • Christ as the Man of Sorrows
  • Virgin and Child with St Anne
  • Avarice
  • Lot fleeing with his daughters from Sodom
  • Lamentation for Christ
  • Bernhard von Deesen
  • Portrait of a young Furleger with hair done up
  • Portrait of a young Furleger with loose hair
  • Virgin and Child before an Archway
  • Virgin in Prayer
  • The Suicide of Lucretia
  • Portrait of Jakob Fugger the Rich
  • Portrait of a Gentleman
  • Portrait of Hieronymus Holzshuher
  • St Jerome in the wilderness
  • St Jerome
  • Dresden Altarpiece
  • Oswalt Krel triptych
  • Madonna with the Siskin
  • Haller Madonna
  • Portrait of Michael Wolgemut
  • Portrait of Elspeth Tucher
  • Portrait of a man
  • Felicitas Tucher
  • Holy Family
  • Madonna of the Carnation
  • Portrait of a man
  • Head of a woman
  • Portrait of Jakob Muffel
  • Portrait of Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony
  • Portrait of Burkard von Speyer
  • Salvator Mundi
  • St Sebastian with an arrow
  • Portrait of a young girl
  • Portrait of Johannes Kleberger
  • Madonna of the Pear
  • Portrait of a young man
  • Combined Coats of Arms of the Reiter and Tucher Families
  • Portrait of a Venetian Woman
  • Portrait of a young man
  • Way to Calvary
  • Portrait of a Cleric
  • Portrait of a man with a red beret
  • Salvator Mundi
  • Virgin and Child
  • Emperor Maximilian I
  • Head of a bearded child
  • Head of a man
  • Portrait of a young man
  • Lion
  • Virgin and child before a landscape
  • Lamentation
  • Virgin suckling Christ Child
  • Boy with a Globe
  • Boy's head tilted to the left
  • Boy's head tilted to the right
  • The Death of Crescentia Pirckheimer
  • Miraculous Rescue of a Drowning Boy at Bregenz
  • Christ on the Cross
  • Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds
  • Apotheosis and Coronation of St Dominic
  • Ship of Fools
  • Maximilian I Coat of Arms
  • Portrait of a Young Man
  • Ecce Homo
  • Lamentation

See also

  • Dürer graph
    Dürer graph
    In the mathematical field of graph theory, the Dürer graph is an undirected graph with 12 vertices and 18 edges. It is named after Albrecht Dürer, whose 1514 engraving Melencolia I includes a depiction of Dürer's solid, a convex polyhedron having the Dürer graph as its skeleton...

     and Dürer's solid
  • Dürer's magic square

External links