ALBRECHT DURER 1471 -
xxxxxAlbrecht Durer was a skilled German artist who excelled in many media, but is best known today for his superb engravings and woodcuts. A leading figure in the German Renaissance, he produced a large number of altarpieces, portraits, landscapes and drawings, all of them remarkable for their keenly-
xxxxxAs a boy he was apprenticed to his father, a Hungarian goldsmith who had settled in Nuremberg, and then to Michael Wolgemut, a local woodcut designer who was then engaged in providing illustrations for the Nuremberg Chronicle. At the age of twenty, after working as an engraver in Colmar, Basel and Strasbourg, he travelled throughout Europe, studying the variety of art techniques employed in various countries. It was during a stay in Venice, beginning in 1505, that he met Bellini, copied the works of Mantegna, and studied the science of perspective. His direct contact with the new artistic ideas of the Renaissance had a marked influence on his future work. He was court painter to Maximilian I for a number of years, and during that time provided marginal drawings for the Emperor’s prayer book. Then, following a visit to Antwerp in 1520, where he was warmly received, he was employed for a time by Maximilian’s successor, Charles V.
xxxxxSome of his work, such as his illustrations for The Apocalypse, are clearly Gothic in spirit, but his woodcut Life of the Virgin, produced after his second visit to Italy, shows the influence of Bellini and the sense of space and serenity which one associates with Renaissance art. Earlier works which deserve special mention are his engravings The Fortune and Adam and Eve, both executed in the early 1500s, and the Great Passion and the Little Passion, a woodcut series which was produced over twelve years. Exquisite also are his simple drawings -
xxxxxHis paintings in particular combine elements of Northern art -
xxxxxBecause of his visits to Italy -
xxxxxThe German artist Albrecht Durer is best known for his superb engravings and woodcuts, such as the fifteen woodcuts for the Apocalypse of St. John, his woodcut series entitled the Great and Little Passion, and his copperplate engraving Knight, Death and the Devil, produced in 1513. These and all his works are remarkable for their keenly-
xxxxxIncidentally, while working at Basel and Strasbourg, Durer made illustrations for a number of books, including some for Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools. His own written works include a treatise on the art of fortifications, produced in 1527, and Four Books on Human Proportions, published posthumously in 1528.
xxxxxAt Aachen in 1520, during the coronation of Charles V, Durer met one of his talented countrymen, the painter Matthias Grünewald (1475-
xxxxxGrünewald was painter to both the Archbishop and Elector of Mainz, and in his later years was responsible for a series of paintings for the cathedral of Halle. He was known to his contemporaries, including Durer, as Matthias von Aschaffenburg, this being the town where his work as an artist is first recorded.
xxxxxAnother German artist who, along with Durer and Cranach (the man who painted some famous portraits of Luther) was one of the leaders of the German Renaissance, was Albrecht Altdorfer of Regensburg, Bavaria (c1480-
xxxxxShown here are four engravings from his The Fall and Redemption of Man: The Garden of Eden, The Flight into Egypt, The Last Supper, and The Crucifixion.
and Albrecht Altdorfer
Durer: a Study for a Self-