Albrecht Durer

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The brief introduction to the life and works of Albrecht Durer of Nuremberg.

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First created 16 Jan 2013. Version 1.0 - 23 Jan 2013. Jerry Tse. London . Albrecht Durer All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. The Maestro of Northern Renaissance

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Durer was a contemporary of Leonardo and Michelangelo. He was the most well-known painter of the northern Renaissance .

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Durer was a good portraitist. You can see his style changing through his life.

Nuremberg:

Nuremberg Nuremberg in 1492. - Durer was born in Nuremberg in 1471, only 4 years older than Michelangelo. The city was prosperous, lively and politically stable. It was often referred to as the ‘Florence of the North’, at the time. This woodcut was originally from the famous Nuremberg Chronicle, which was produced by Durer’s teacher and his workshop.

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Childhood Durer was the third of 18 children, most of them did not survive infancy. The painting on the right was Durer’s father, who was a goldsmith. This was Durer’s first oil painting. On the left was Durer’s mother.

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Printing was introduced by a German, Johannes Gutenberg around 1440 in Mainz. Soon it spread to Italy. But by the last quarter of the 15C, its growth was explosive in Germany and the Low Countries. By 1500, more than 20 million books were printed in Western Europe and some 2500 cities had their own printers. Printing was an information revolution. It allowed us to communicate across space and time. Ideas were spreading like wild fire. Reformation theology, humanist philosophy, scientific knowledge, popular novels and navigation charts were spread by printing, with far reaching consequences. It also accelerated literacy, commercial and trading activities. Spread of Printing

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The Apprenticeship Years Michael Wolgemut was Durer’s teacher, who ran a workshop in the city, supplying delightful illustrations to the city’s printers.

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Amongst the earliest of Durer’s watercolours, painted on the outskirt of Nuremberg, showing a copper wire workshop. Durer followed the Netherlandish landscape using brown for the foreground, green for the middle ground and blue in the distance. The Apprenticeship Years

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Marriage This becomes the very first self portrait in oil in the history of painting. Durer’s parents arranged a marriage for him to a local girl, Agnes (above). Before Durer made his way home, he painted the portrait on the right and sent it to his bride to be. After his apprenticeship, Durer spent his time travelling as a journeyman (travelling craftsman) between 1490 and 1494.

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On his visit to Venice, Durer made this sketch of a crab. He was fascinated by the natural world. First trip to Italy

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This was painted on his way back to Nuremberg from Italy. First trip to Italy

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First trip to Italy

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First Altarpiece This is the first of Durer’s altarpieces, for the palace church at Wittenberg. Study of a Man with a Drill c1496. The seven sorrows are the Circumcision, the Flight into Egypt, debate with the Doctors, the bearing of the Cross, the Nailing to the cross, the Crucifixion and the Lamentation.

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On Ascent Young woman of the Furleger family of Nuremberg.

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This is the second of Durer’s self portrait, painted when he was 27. The artist posed in self-confidence, dressed in fine flamboyant Italian costume with gloves, in front of a window, like that of an Italian portrait, with a grandiose landscape, possibly the Alps. Italy treated their artist with high respect and admiration. Officially, Durer only enjoyed the rank of craftsman in Nuremberg. Later in the year Durer was admitted to the Herrentrinkstube (Gentleman’s Taproom), a club for patrician. The portrait reflects Durer’s concept of an artist and his personal pride of his profession. It is the image of an artist, as Durer saw it. An Artist Cult

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Apocalypse In 1498, Durer published The Apocalypse, which included a series of 15 woodcuts by Durer, based on the Book of Revelation in the Bible. The book rapidly brought him wealth and fame across Europe. The book was published in Latin and in German. The second edition of the book was published 13 years later in 1511. Durer perhaps more any the artist understood the potential and the importance of publishing his works to a much larger audience. By doing so, he freed the artist from the patronage system and allowed them to pursue an independent career.

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The Successful Years Durer’s “AD” monogram first appeared in 1495. It was a trademark or a logo. It represented quality and the genuine article. It showed the acute awareness of Durer as a businessman. In his time, he also had to deal with copyright violation and forgery. Durer made more money in prints than as a painter.

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The Portrait of Oswolt Krel with two smaller panels depicting aggressive hair-covered wildmen. The portrait shows Durer’s attempt to penetrate the psychology behind the face. His gaze seems threatening, with a blood red curtain behind. The Successful Years

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The Successful Years Elspeth holding a wedding ring, a large gold necklace, dressed in fine clothing. Through the window is a wooded landscape beneath a stormy sky.

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As Durer became well-known after his Apocalypse, he received more commissions for paintings. This was the Paumgartner Altarpiece. On the left was St George, a portrait of Stephen Paumgartner, on the left was St Eustace (Lukas Paumgartner). The Successful Years

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The Successful Years

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Durer was a master of self-promotion, showing himself as a prodigy, as an Italian painter and perhaps with the divine gift of artistic inspiration. He was a self-conscious artist inspired by the Renaissance and the humanist ideals. He was also a religious man. In his later years he was sympathetic to Martin Luther’s call to reform the church. On the right is a self portrait of Durer in the nude. 1505, age 34. 1484. Age 13. 1493. Age 22. 1498. Age 27. 1500 Age 29.

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In this portrait, Durer dressed in a fur coat worn by the patricians and humanists of northern Europe, with a Latin inscriptions of a learned man. Here Durer did not portrait himself objectively but to paint himself as he would like others to see him. On the upper part of the portrait, he presented himself as an iconic image, using the symmetrical Byzantine format of Christ with a steadfast gaze, as a Christ in Art. “Durer openly declares that he is to emulate Christ in his own way. In his miraculous creativity, in sacrifice and in his attempt to communicate the truth to men, he will adopt the most dedicated mode of life.” (Alistair Smith in Durer published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968 p 5). In the lower part of the portrait with the patricians and humanists costume, the casual gesture of his fingers touching the fur, bring us back to this earthly world. It is a journey by Durer to elevate the painter from craftsman to artist, bringing home the Renaissance ideal of the dignity of man, to his native country. Artist Vision

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This painting is closer to the Italian Renaissance painting of the time.

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The landscape of Lamentation in the background, showing his quality as a landscape painter.

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Nature This is one of the most loved painting of Durer and possible the finest of his nature paintings. The alert hare covered in fur with ears extended ready to spring for an escape. This painting demonstrates Durer’s obsession with details.

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Nature This is a surprising subject matter in his time. Not only it shows originality but also from a point view of an insect.

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Second trip to Italy Attractively painted with a close-up view of the face, omitting the arms as in the Venetian format. She was dressed in the Venetian hairstyle and fashion.

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On the right is a nude self portrait of Durer exposing himself as like a flagellated Christ with hands bounded to a pillar. Was Durer putting himself under merciless and ruthless self examination? This portrait when compares with his 1500 ‘Christ’ portrait cannot be more different.

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Second trip to Italy

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Detail portraits of the Doctors. The painting suggests Durer may have been influenced by the characterization of the figures in a painting (using facial features as a way to express different characters). He also used gestures to express firmness and doubts. Second trip to Italy

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The painting of the woman was painted on the back of the ‘German Young Man’, who did not pay Durer for his portrait (above). The woman’s sagging breasts, the wrinkles, the greyish blonde hair and the withering arm were once belonged to a beautiful woman. She was holding a bag of gold, as if she was offering the gold to buy back her youth and beauty. Is this Durer’s message to the ‘Young Man’? Second trip to Italy

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These panels were the earliest known life-size nudes in Northern Europe. It provided Durer a chance to explore nudes painting, after his return from Italy. Return to Nuremberg

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Durer’s iconic study of the praying hands. He was a devout Christian. In his own eyes he was a man heavily burdened with sin. Return to Nuremberg

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Nature Spectacular, shimmering colours are astonishing. Durer were always attracted by exotic animals.

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Difficult times This is regarded as one of his masterpieces of engraving. It is an allegorical picture, showing the Christian as a knight, ignoring the horned devil and passing the figure of Death with courage.

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The magic number is 34. However the complex meanings of the image are not easily understood. This was engraved during the year when Durer’s mother died, which affected him greatly. Difficult times Melancholia is a personification of the melancholic sentiment. She is surrounded by tools, instruments, geometric figures and a magic square (representing mathematics). These are means of creation or representing creativity. On the background is the apocalyptic sign of a rainbow and a comet in the sky. So Durer was saying something about creativity, the melancholy and apocalypse.

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Recognition Portrait of St James in an anguished state, with head slight tilted, furrowed brows and dropped lower lip.

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Recognition Maximilian I, the most powerful monarch of northern Europe was a Holy Roman Emperor. Durer met Maximilian I, who commissioned him to work on two large woodcuts. He gave Durer an annual pension in 1515. This oil painting was based on a sketch made a year earlier. It was painted after his death. The broken pomegranate, a symbol of the Resurrection and his own personal emblem.

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Trip to the Low Countries Erasmus of Rotterdam (Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus 1466-1536) was a Humanist and a proponent of religious toleration. He was critical of the abuses within the Catholic church and called for reform. He was one of the most influential humanist of his time. In 1520 Durer went to the Netherlands with his wife Agnes. Durer was warmly welcomed and was treated as a celebrity. Durer met Erasmus in Brussels and sketched his portrait.

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Last years Hieronymus Holzschuher was a close friend of Durer. He was a learned man, from a powerful local family. He served as the mayor of Nuremberg. Durer painted his beard in remarkable details here.

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Reformation This is the last of Durer’s last major work. There are two inscriptions on the bottom of the panels warning world leaders to follow the words of God and not human delusions. The inscription marked Durer’s belief in the Reformation and concern about religious fanaticism. The inscription was sawed off by the Catholic Bavarian Duke Maximilian. The inscription was finally reunited with the painting in 1922.

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On the left is the face of St Peter and on the right, the face of St Paul. The painting was painted with northern precision of detail with Italian amplitude of form.

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All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. The End Music – JS Back Keyboard Concerto in F Minor - Il Largo.

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