Albrecht Durer Biography | Oil Paintings
5-21-1471 Nuremberg, GER –4-6-1528 Nuremberg, GERBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Albrecht Durer was a fascinating character, and one of the leading figures of his time. He consorted with sovereigns, artists, and thinkers, and was always at the center of the contemporary debate.
Albrecht Durer was the son of a goldsmith who taught him the art of drawing in silver point. In 1484 he was apprenticed to a leading Nuremberg painter and book illustrator of his time, Michael Wolgmut, from whom he learned the techniques of woodcut engraving. At the age of nineteen, he finished his apprenticeship in Nuremberg and made a series of trips to Basel, Strasbourg, Vienna, and Venice to further his studies, which gave him a European perspective on figurative art. Durer was committed intellectual when many artists were still regarded as no more than specialized craftsmen.
Durer "But I Don't Know What Beauty Is".
One of Durer's first large-scale works was a triptych, whose central panel depicts the Nativity. The superb saints in their armor on the side panels can be identified by their specific symbolic attributes. The defeated dragon indicates St. George and the banner with the head of a deer identify St. Eustace. These are portraits of the two Paumgartner brothers who commissioned the work.
He then traveled extensively in Italy, where the works of Leonardo, Bellini and Mantegna had a profound influence on his later career, both as a practicing artist and as an art theorist who wrote on the subject. He was influenced by these great masters of late Gothic and continued their legacy. He spent the years 1505 to 1507 in Italy at the height of his artistic maturity and was exposed to the Italian Renaissance at the pinnacle of its splendor. One of the most exciting episodes in the whole of European painting emerged from this exchange, and Durer's work, characterized by superb drawing, achieved true monumentality during this period.
The Madonna was Durer's favorite subject and she appeared again and again in his paintings, drawings, and engravings. This charming version of Madonna Of The Siskin, showing the influence of Bellini and Lotto, can be identified as belonging to the period of the artist's second trip to Venice.
Albrecht Durer, the First ever Universal Artist.
He felt a growing desire to create beauty that was both ideal and natural. Further travel took him to Antwerp and the Low Countries in 1521, where he came in contact with Quentin Metsys and Lucas van Eyden. In his final years, during the conflicts that beset Germany, he sought a difficult equilibrium through art and moderation. Durer possessed the prodigious power of invention and was indeed a “universal” artist, open to very diverse themes, formats, and techniques.
Albrecht Durer was thus responsible for introducing many of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance to northern Europe. Although now remembered for his engravings (including the Triumphal Car, at nine square meters the world's largest woodcut), he was an accomplished painter whose mastery of detail and acute observation have seldom been surpassed.
But, he had a growing conviction that had remained hidden for many years, a kind of dark presentiment of what was about to come. One of the two panels he painted of the Four Apostles shows a very mean looking St. Mark. He began to be aware of the limits of art and the contrast between the utopias of humanism and reality. After being close to Giovanni Bellini and Leonardo, he now found himself sharing the views of Michelangelo, who was almost the same age. They are the two most caustic, embittered, and disillusioned artists in the Europe of the Reformation. The first thirty years of the sixteenth century were one of the most brilliant and exciting periods in the history of German art. This was the brief but splendid period of the Northern Renaissance. Then the onset of the Reformation, that began in earnest with Martin Luther's “95 Theses” in 1517, soon came crashing down onto this situation in ferment. Luther was excommunicated in 1520 by Pope Leo X. Luther repudiated all devotional images, which brought an end to religious painting and hence a drastic stagnation in German art.
Albrecht Durer self-dramatizing and intense self-portraits had a strong influence on artists in both the nineteenth and twentieth century who wanted portrait paintings in a more intense style.
Art Movement History: German School, Northern Renaissance.
Artists Influencing Durer: Michael Wolgmut, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giovani Bellini, Andre Mantegna.
He Traveled To Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland.
Painters Albrecht Durer Influenced: Raphael, Titian, Parmigianino.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.