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Albrecht Dürer was born on 21 May 1471, the third child and second son of Albrecht Dürer the Elder and Barbara Holper who from their union had eighteen children together. After a few years of school, Dürer learned the basics of goldsmithing and drawing from his father. Though his father wanted him to continue his training as a goldsmith, he showed such a gifted talent in drawing that he started as an apprentice to Michael Wolgemut at the age of fifteen in 1486.
After completing his apprenticeship, Albrecht followed the common German custom of taking Wanderjahre—in effect gap years—in which the apprentice learned skills from artists in other areas; Dürer was to spend about four years away. In early 1492 he traveled to Basel and stayed 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, Albrecht was married to Agnes Frey following an arrangement made during his absence. However, no children resulted from the marriage, and with Albrecht, the Dürer name died out.
Within three months of his marriage, Albrecht left for Italy, alone and went to Venice to study its more advanced artistic world. Through Wolgemut’s tutelage, he learned how to make prints in drypoint and design woodcuts in the German style, based on the works of Schongauer and the Housebook Master. There he wrote that Giovanni Bellini was the oldest and still the best of the artists in Venice.
On Albrecht’s return to Nuremberg in 1495, he opened his own workshop. Over the next five years, his style increasingly integrated Italian influences into underlying Northern forms. Arguably his best works in the first years of the workshop were his woodcut prints, which were mostly religious.
In Italy, he returned to painting, at first producing a series of works executed in tempera on linen. These include portraits and altarpieces, notably, the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi. In early 1506, he returned to Venice and stayed there until the spring of 1507. By this time Albrecht’s engravings had attained great popularity and were being copied. In Venice, he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of San Bartolomeo. This was the altarpiece known as the Adoration of the Virgin or the Feast of Rose Garlands. He also created large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings, most famously the Betende Hände (Praying Hands) from circa 1508, a study for an apostle in the Heller altarpiece.
Having secured his pension, Dürer returned home in July 1521, having caught an undetermined illness, which afflicted him for the rest of his life, and greatly reduced his rate of work. On 6 April 1528 Dürer died in Nuremberg at the age of 56, leaving an estate valued at 6,874 florins – a considerable sum. He is buried in the Johannisfriedhof cemetery. His mansion (purchased in 1509 by the heirs of the astronomer Bernhard Walther), where his workshop was located and where his widow lived until her death in 1539, remains a prominent Nuremberg landmark.
- Müller, Peter O. (1993) Substantiv-Derivation in Den Schriften Albrecht Dürers, Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-012815-2.
- Brand Philip & Anzelewsky (1978–79), 11
- Bartrum, 93, note 1
- Giulia Bartrum, “Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy”, British Museum Press, 2002, ISBN 0-7141-2633-0
- Brand Philip & Anzelewsky (1978–79), 10
- Lee, Raymond L. & Alistair B. Fraser. (2001) The Rainbow Bridge, Penn State Press. ISBN 0-271-01977-8.
Accessed Wikipedia.org 05 April 2022.
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