While Italian artists invented rules of perspective and proportion to govern their representations of man in his natural environment, the German and early Netherlandish painters perfected their observation and depiction of individual natural phenomena without, however, establishing a correct perspectival space within which to contain the multiplicity of detail. His father, Albrecht the Elder, was a Hungarian goldsmith who went to Nuremberg in , where he married Barbara Holper, daughter of a goldsmith. He executed his first self-portrait, a drawing in silverpoint, at the age of He arrived in Colmar in , soon after the death of the prominent German graphic artist Martin Schongauer in , and continued on to Basel, where he stayed until late working extensively as a woodcut designer.
The works generally ascribed to him show he was an extremely lively and many-faceted artist, interested in the representation of various aspects of daily life. The prints and drawings he executed at that period were influenced by Schongauer and the Housebook Master, the two major representatives of Rhenish graphic art. He copied works by the leading contemporary Italian masters, and it is apparent in his drawings that he soon learned how to impart to his figures perfection of anatomy, classical pathos, and harmony.
In the process of assimilating the spirit of classical art, he became aware of the necessity of art theory, to which he later devoted much of his time. The series is a tour de force in giving shape, in a realistic framework, to the fantastic images conjured up in the Book of Revelation. Each of the woodcuts represents a homogeneous action but at the same time contributes to create a powerful unity of the whole series. He represented himself as a humanist scholar and an elegant young man without the attributes of his profession. In this way he opposed the concept of art as craft current outside of Italy.
They therefore grew up unconscious as a wild uncut tree," he wrote. He wanted to be different and to change his followers: "Since geometry is the right foundation of all painting, I have decided to teach its rudiments and principles to all youngsters eager for art…". Records of that stay abound in his letters to his humanist friend Willibald Pirckheimer. There is no mention of a visit to Rome. It was only quite recently that the inscription "Romae " was discovered on his painting Christ among the Doctors Lugano , which seems to argue favorably for the assumption that he did go to Rome.
Until recently scholars knew only that he went as far as Balogna, but even if he really visited Rome his stay there must have been rather short as it left no visible traces in his drawings. He was on good terms there with artists, humanists, and noblemen. Bartolommeo, his most Italian picture—in composition as in color: the Feast of the Rose Garlands. Even today, in spite of its damaged condition, "a solemn splendor of the southern town rests upon the picture," according to M. The same freedom of touch, subtle and flexible, characterizes his drawings of nudes, done during and after the Italian journey.
One of them is the Heller Altarpiece The central panel was destroyed by fire in and is known only through a copy by Jobst Harrich. In them his humanistic interests appear, developed through his friendships with distinguished German scholars, especially Pirckheimer. These engravings are allegories of the three kinds of virtue associated with the three spheres of human activity: in Knight the active sphere is depicted; in St. Jerome, the contemplative sphere; and in Melencolia I, the intellectual sphere, which Erwin Panofsky describes as an allegory of "the life of the secular genius in the rational and imaginative worlds of science and art.
Jerome, and dramatic and gloomy in Melencolia. At the same time they show the greatest virtuosity in the handling of the medium; their silvery, vibrant surfaces contain both graphic and pictorial effects. Throughout his life he drew and engraved simple motifs studied from life, as in the dramatic drawing of his old mother, emaciated and ill This trip was a triumph for the artist and proved the esteem with which he was regarded. He drew portraits, landscapes, townscapes, and curiosities in his sketchbook. He met Erasmus of Rotterdam, whom he greatly admired and of whom he made a portrait drawing, which he later engraved The Reformation was creating great religious and social changes.
In his last drawings, such as the Oblong Passion 10 drawings, , he expressed his powerful religious feelings, but held in check by a severe composition. The monumental, sculpturesque figures towering in their shallow space represent Saints John and Peter left panel and Saints Mark and Paul right panel. The two paintings were probably intended as the wings of a triptych, the central panel of which was not executed.
He gave the panels to the Town Council of Nuremberg. In the panels he included quotations from the writings of the saints represented, which contained accusations against "false prophets. He died on April 6, , a few months before his last and most important theoretical work, The Four Books on Proportions, was published. Active in art and science, he was the first true Renaissance artist outside of Italy and in his diversity a typical Renaissance man.
He created a language of visual forms that furnished his contemporaries and followers with modern tools adapted to their needs: his art was a translation of the Italian Renaissance vocabulary into a dialect understandable north of the Alps.
A selection of his writings is included in Wolfgang Stechow, ed. His early training took place in the metalworking shop of his father, where he showed great talent in drawing. In he joined the workshop of Michael Wolgemut, a painter and illustrator. His earliest known painting was a portrait of his father, completed in In , he returned to Nuremberg, which became his permanent home, but after his marriage there he was soon voyaging again, this time to Italy. The ruins and literature of ancient Rome impressed him, as did the works of Italian painters of Venice , Milan, and Padua — foremost among them Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna.
He put this principle to use in his altarpieces, paintings done for prominent display inside a church. One of the most famous of these works is the Paumgartner Altarpiece , which was completed by Along with his watercolor painting of The Wild Hare , still one of the most common art reproductions, these works were reproduced as prints by the thousands and circulated throughout Europe.
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During this trip he wrote a series of engaging and observant letters to his friend, Willibald Pirckheimer, one of the leading humanist scholars of Germany. He developed great skill at rendering the natural world of landscapes, plants and animals in his engravings, a skill he refined during his crossing of the Alps from Germany to Italy. These works include Knight, Death, and the Devil; St. Jerome in His Study ; and Melancolia. They represented the new ideal of philosophy: the contemplative life of study in Neoplatonism and observations in science that countered medieval religious doctrines.
In his last years he wrote extensively on art theory and history. He published a work on fortifications and another on the science of perspective, Instruction in Measurement , and wrote The Four Books on Proportions , which was published a few months after his death. He ushered an entire nation of German artists from the medieval period into the Renaissance, and brought graphic art of printmaking and woodcuts to a higher level, where they began competing with painting and sculpture for the attention of art historians and patrons.
Along the way he supported himself by occasionally undertaking printing projects. Upon his return to Nuremberg in , he married the daughter of a wealthy artisan, but an outbreak of the plague several months later encouraged the artist to leave the city, this time for Venice.
The drawings he completed on this trip were some of the first independent landscapes in European history. When the artist returned to his native city, he began to publish prints.
The first undeniable masterpiece, his woodcut Apocalypse series, appeared as a book published in a joint venture with his godfather, the accomplished Nuremberg printer Anton Koberger. During this early stage of the artist's career he also painted, designed stained glass , and undertook a number of decorative projects. His theoretical interests in art and aesthetics also grew, and the author kept written records of his thinking on these subjects.
From his youth, the artist had also painted and drawn self-portraits. In , he completed the last of these portraits, one that shows the artist staring at the viewer in a Christlike pose. By , for instance, the artist's love of travel and adventure caused him to set out on a second journey to Italy. The artist admired the higher status and social standing of Italian painters and he longed to see artists treated similarly in Germany.
Criticism from Italians about his skill in painting caused the artist to devote considerable time and attention to this picture, which showed the influence of the great Venetian artist Bellini on its completion. He demonstrated his mastery of the lessons he had learned in Italy by painting life-size nudes of Adam and Eve as well as his altarpiece panel the Adoration of the Trinity. These works demonstrated the artist's mastery of the skills of the painter, while at the same time his skills in graphic arts , particularly in the copper engraving process, improved tremendously.
Throughout the s the artist released a number of new series of engravings, including his famous Melancolia I , The Knight , and St. Jerome in His Study. In the artist embarked with his wife on his final travels, a visit to the Low Countries. But he indulged his taste for art and spent months exploring the Netherlands. Unfortunately, during one of his many side trips, he developed a fever, which may have been malaria, and he returned to Nuremberg with weakened health. Because of his frailty, the artist spent the last years of his life painting portraits of local dignitaries and writing about art.
He now took the opportunity to work on this manual, as well as several other works on proportions and civil engineering. Although pioneering in their scope, the publication of several of these works after the artist's death did not have an immediate effect on German artists. Humanism had deeply colored the artist's outlook in the previous decades, and he aligned himself with the Lutheran cause. Although there was little that was specifically Lutheran about these works, his choice of subject—the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—was an expression of his hope that the town would continue to follow the Reformation's biblical path in religious matters.
Dürer, Albrecht (1471–1528)
After his bachelor journey, which took him to Colmar, Basel, and Strasbourg, and a trip to Italy in , he established himself permanently in Nuremberg. Through these travels he gained a firsthand acquaintance with the art of Schongauer , the foremost Northern engraver of this time, and while in Italy he was drawn to the art of Mantegna and Bellini. A series of large woodcuts of the Apocalypse was issued in Two woodcut cycles of the Passion of Christ and a Life of the Virgin appeared in the first decade of the 16th cent.
His sensitive perception of the natural world is shown in a number of drawings and watercolors of plants and animals and in a remarkable series of Alpine landscapes executed in the course of his journey to Italy. Jerome in his Cell, and Melencolia I both: The artist's investigation of the ideal proportions of the human body culminated in the Fall of Man Converted c. In the second decade of the 16th cent. He signed most of his work and made penetrating self-portraits throughout his life, revealing a consciousness of his individuality that was unusual in German art before his time.
The Heller Altar, finished in , was destroyed by fire in the 18th cent. In addition, he defined his figures, particularly in mythological scenes, with a superb sense of proportion. An equally talented draftsman and painter, he executed a vast number of woodcuts and engravings throughout his career, achieving as a graphic artist an unsurpassed technical mastery and expressive power. His work has influenced generations of printmakers and draftsmen. Bibliography See the catalog of his prints and drawings by the Museum of Fine Arts , Boston ; graphics ed. Talbot ; biographies by E.
Panofsky 4th ed.
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Brion ; studies by C. White , H. Koschatzy See also W. Strauss, ed. German Roots. Albrecht Diirer was born on 21 May in Nuremberg, the third of eighteen children. He began his training as a goldsmith in his father's workshop but persuaded his father to allow him to apprentice with Michael Wolgemut, a local painter and designer of woodcut book-illustrations.
Wolgemut's shop created works for Anton Koberger, Diirer's godfather, and a prestigious printer and editor. After completing his apprenticeship, Diirer traveled and visited notable artists and publishing centers at Colmar, Basel, and Strasbourg, while employing his skills as a print designer. He married Agnes Frey, the daughter of a local well-to-do artisan, upon his return but left several months later when the plague broke out in Nuremberg.
During that trip to Venice he created some of the first autonomous watercolors depicting landscapes and architectural settings Upon his return he concentrated on the production of woodcuts and engravings.
The combination of the printing press and oil-based ink had made books more widely available to upper-middle-class readers during Diirer's lifetime, and he was able to shape the tastes of his public and to select his images and subject matter with great freedom. A second trip to Venice from to resulted in a commission to paint The Madonna of the Rosegarlands for the German merchants of the Con-fraternity of the Rosary.
He recognized the elevated status that artists had in Italy and wished to obtain these benefits in his home country. His choice of subjects, such as Adam and Eve, enabled him to incorporate his understanding of the classical nude in his engravings. Diirer's choice of themes and medium woodcut or engraving reflected his awareness of his audience and their resources in the marketing of his prints.
He painted portraits of the emperors Charlemagne and Sigismund for the Nuremberg city council around These works were located in a room of a house where the imperial relics and jewels of the Holy Roman Empire were displayed to the citizens. He received several major commissions from Emperor Maximilian I, including a multiple-block print series of The Triumphal Arch and The Triumphal Procession In he traveled with his wife to the Netherlands, recording his experiences in a journal and sketchbook. He devoted his subsequent time to preparing a series of theoretical treatises on human proportion and measurement, which was published in This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art.
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The following other wikis use this file: Usage on be. Structured data Items portrayed in this file depicts. Namespaces File Discussion. We also hear of him at Strasburg. On the one hand it is argued that he did ; first, because, on the occasion of an undoubted visit to Venice in , he speaks of admiring no longer that which he had vastly admired "eleven years before ;" secondly, because several careful drawings by his hand from the engravings of Mantegna and other Italian masters, bearing the date , show that in this year he was making a special study of Italian art ; and thirdly, because he has left a number of coloured drawings of the scenery of Tyrol, such as he would have to traverse on the road between Bavaria and Venice, and these show a technical finish and minuteness of execution, characteristic of his studies at this early period but not later.
The question will probably remain open to the end. Their marriage was childless. Agnes survived her husband. But a closer study of facts and documents shows that there is not a jot of evidence to support these splenetic charges. Within this period his masterly powers unfolfed and matured themselves.
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Two important devotional pictures are attributed to his early practice ; one a large triptych painted in tempera on linen, now in the gallery at Dresden, the other also an altar-piece with wings, now in the summer palace of the archbishop of Vienna at Over St Veit ; both probably painted for the Elector Frederick of Saxony.
These pictures have been executed, like those of Wohlgemuth, hastily, and with the help of pupils. The first edition illustrated with this series appeared in The Northern mind had long dwelt with eagerness on these mysteries of things to come, and among the earliest block-books printed in Germany is an edition of the Apocalypse with rude figures. The four angles keeping back the winds that they blow not ; the four riders ; the loosing of the angels of the Euphrates to slay the third part of men; these and others are conceptions of such force, such grave or tempestuous grandeur in the midst of grotequeness, as the art of no other age or hand has produced.
In the years immediately about or preceding , he produced a number of plates of which the subjects are generally fanciful and allegorical, and the execution is more or less tentative and uncertain. As to the identity of this W, criticism is much divided. The question is difficult to decide. He had completed the set of drawings of the Passion of Christ, in which on a green ground, which is known as the Green Passion, and forms one of the treasures of the Albertina at Vienna.
He had followed up his great woodcut series of ht Apocalypse with preparations for other series on a similar scale, and had finished seven out of twelve subjects for the set known as the Great Passion, and sixteen out of twenty for the Life of the Virgin, when his work was interrupted by a journey which is one of the principal episodes in his life. In the autumn of the year he went to Venice, and stayed there until the autumn of the following year. The occasion of this journey has been erroneously stated by Vasari. This account will not bear examination. Nevertheless something of the kind may probably have been among the causes which determined his journey.
These works of the German master were not without influence upon the Italian painters resident at Venice, an influence which we can distinctly trace in some of the early works of Titian. He by the noblest of all, the veteran Giovanni Bellini. He talks of the honour and wealth in which he might live if he would consent to abandon home for Italy, of the Northern winter, and how it will make him shiver.
Yet he resisted the seductions of the South, and was in Nuremberg again before the close of First, it seems he had made an execursion to Bologna, having intended to take Mantua on the way, in order to do homage to the old age of that Italian master, Andrea Mantegna, form whom he had himself in youth learnt the most. But the death of Mantegna prevented this purpose.
During these years his genius and his fortunes were at their height. Except the dazzling existence of Raphael at Rome, the annals of art present the spectacle of no more honorable or more enviable career. From Antwerp to Rome his greatness was acknowledged, and artists of less invention, among them some of the foremost on both sides of the Alps, were not ashamed to borrow from his work this or that striking combination or expressive type.
In his own country, all orders of men, from the emperor Maximilian down, delighted to honour him ; he was the familiar companion of chosen spirits among statesmen, humanists, and reformers, and had the power to bind himself with the links of a more than brotherly friendship the leading citizen of the leading city of Germany Willibald Pirkheimer. His temper and his life were singularly free from all that was jarring, jealous, or fretful. He is even distinguished from his fellow citizens by the stately beauty of his aspect and the rich elegance of his attire. During and after his residence at Venice, he had come to disuse the traditional German practice of painting with the help of a whole school of assistants and apprentices.
In , he painted two pictures for his native town, the historical portraits of Charlemagne and the emperor Sigismund, which are now to be seen in the Germanic Museum of Nuremberg. Of the sixteen composing the Little Passion on Copper, perhaps the best invented and certainly the most brilliantly executed of all his gospel histories, ten were executed in and the last six in