Albrecht Dürer

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Albrecht Dürer the Younger
Durer selfporitrait.jpg
Self-Portrait (1500)
Born 21 May 1471(1471-05-21)
Holy Roman Empire
Died 6 April 1528 (aged 56)
Holy Roman Empire
Field Printmaking, painting
Works Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513)
Saint Jerome in his Study (1514)
Melencolia I (1514)
Dürer's Rhinoceros

Albrecht Dürer (b. 21 May 1471 in Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire; 6 April 1528 ibid) was a German painter, printmaker, mathematician, engraver, and theorist.


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 ever since. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. His woodcuts, 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 (1514) and Melencolia I (1514), which has been the subject of extensive analysis and interpretation. His watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium.

Dürer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, have 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. Dürer was a Roman Catholic, although his writings suggest that he may have been sympathetic to Martin Luther's ideas.


Dürer was the third child and second son of his parents, who had eighteen children, but only three surviving childhood. His father was a successful goldsmith, who in 1455 had moved to Nuremberg. A door is featured in the coat-of-arms the family acquired. Albrecht Dürer the Elder (Albrecht Dürer der Ältere; d. 20. September 1502) married Barbara Holper, the daughter of his master Hieronymus Holper, when he himself became a master in 1467. Young Albrecht's brother Hans Dürer (1490–1534) also became an accomplished painter, his brother Andreas (Endres) Dürer (1484–1555) was an accomplished and very wealthy gold- and silversmith.

Dürer's godfather was Anton Koberger, 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, published in 1493 in German and Latin editions. It contained an unprecedented 1,809 woodcut 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.


In early 1492 Dürer travelled to Basel 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.


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