Albrecht Dürer

  • 1471 - 1528
  • Artist, Responsible party
  • German

Though Dürer lamented Germany's medieval conception of artists, Italian Renaissance ideas first came north in a powerful way through him. Dürer initially trained in Nuremberg as a goldsmith, painter, and woodcutter. After visiting Venice in 1495, he intensely studied mathematics, geometry, Latin, and humanist literature. He expressed himself primarily through prints; painting was less profitable, and Lutheran church reformers disdained most religious artworks. Dürer's paintings are few and more traditional than his engravings and woodcuts. In 1498 he published the first book entirely produced by an artist, The Apocalypse, which included fourteen woodcuts illustrating the Book of Revelation. Its vivid imagery, masterly draftsmanship, and complex iconography established his reputation. After visiting Italy again from 1505 to 1507, Dürer's art assimilated Renaissance principles. Unlike his earlier, more Gothic woodcuts, Dürer's engravings of 1513 and 1514 suggest the influence of Italian chiaroscuro and were conceived in painterly terms, using a range of velvety tones rather than lines. His drawings include studies of hands, draperies, and costume, portraits, Madonnas, and intimate and detailed watercolor studies of nature. Despite the impressive scope of his workshop, Dürer left no direct successors, though his easily transportable prints were influential throughout Europe.