Albrecht Durer

Considered one of the foremost artists of the Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer’s extensive work in printmaking transformed the categorization of the medium from craft to fine art. Often depicting religious subjects, Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings demonstrated unprecedented technical skill, tonal variation, and compositional sophistication. Dürer theorized extensively on linear perspective and anatomical proportion, concerns that were articulated in a vast body of written work as well as in his paintings and prints. Dürer’s skill earned him the role of court artist for Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, under whom he created a number of paintings and altarpieces. Dürer’s series of self-portraits, created throughout his career, represent some of his most iconic works.

Expulsion From Paradise, (1510)-

 

Dürer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, 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. Toward the end of his apprenticeship he produced his first dated painting, the portrait of his father Albrecht Dürer the Elder of 1490 and the recently discovered pendant of his mother. In April of 1490 Dürer departed Nuremberg; it is not known exactly what cities he visited, but it is possible that this trip included the Netherlands, Cologne, and parts of Austria. He arrived in Colmar in the summer of 1492, and although Martin Schongauer was no longer alive, the influence of Schongauer's engravings as well as the work of the Housebook Master is evident in Dürer's early work. From Colmar he went to Basel, where he made designs for the woodcut illustrations for books, and then to Strasbourg, arriving probably in the autumn of 1493. Returning to Nuremberg in late May of 1494 Dürer married Agnes Frey on 7 July.

In 1495, Dürer embarked upon a career as printmaker and painter. He was immediately successful, receiving in 1496 commissions for paintings from Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. The woodcut series, the Apocalypse, published in 1498, by reason of its innovative format, technical mastery, and the forcefulness of its imagey, made Dürer famous throughout Europe. In the works of his early maturity, from 1500 to about 1505, the northern love of the particular coexists with Italian-inspired concerns for perspective and proportion. The Large Piece of Turf of 1503 meticulously explores the minutiae of nature while the Adam and Eve engraving of 1504 and related drawings are an attempt to depict ideal, classically-porportioned nudes. The Adoration of the Magi, 1504, painted for Frederick the Wise, is a masterpiece of spatial and compositional coherence and equilibrium.

In his last years Dürer became increasingly involved in his theoretical writings. The Teaching of Measurements was completed in 1525 and followed by Various Instructions of the Fortifications of Towns, Castles and Large Villages of 1527. His last and most important treatise, Four Books on Human Proportion, was published posthumously on 31 October 1528. A number of painted and engraved portraits were produced in these years, but the major work is the Four Apostles, dated 1526, that was presented to the city council in Nuremberg. The Apostles John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul and the Evangelist Mark are accompanied by inscriptions warning against false prophets. It is generally agreed that the apostles personify the Four Temperaments, but there is less consensus on the degree to which the panels reflect Dürer's Lutheranism or his concern over the excesses of the Reformation.
Dürer died on 6 April 1528, possibly as a result of a malarial infection contracted in 1521 when he went to Zeeland in the hopes of seeing a stranded whale. Albrecht Dürer is the best-known and arguably the greatest German artist of the Renaissance, whose work was admired and influential throughout Europe.