Dürer, Albrecht

During 1513 and 1514 Dьrer created the greatest of his copperplate engravings: the Knight, St. Jerome in His Study, and

Dürer, Albrecht



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Dьrer, Albrecht

I hold that the perfection of form and beauty is contained in the sum of all men.

-- Dьrer, Four Books on Human Proportions, 1528

Dьrer, Albrecht (b. May 21, 1471, Imperial Free City of Nьrnberg [Germany]--d. April 6, 1528, Nьrnberg), German painter, printmaker, draughtsman and art theorist, generally regarded as the greatest German Renaissance artist. 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.

Born in Nьrnberg as the third son of the Hungarian goldsmith Albrecht Dьrer. Began as an apprentice to his father in 1485, but his earliest known work, one of his many self portraits, was made in 1484. Died in Nьrnberg in 1528.

During 1513 and 1514 Dьrer created the greatest of his copperplate engravings: the Knight, St. Jerome in His Study, and Melencolia I--all of approximately the same size, about 24.5 by 19.1 cm (9.5 by 7.5 inches). The extensive, complex, and often contradictory literature concerning these three engravings deals largely with their enigmatic, allusive, iconographic details. Although repeatedly contested, it probably must be accepted that the engravings were intended to be interpreted together. There is general agreement, however, that Dьrer, in these three master engravings, wished to raise his artistic intensity to the highest level, which he succeeded in doing. Finished form and richness of conception and mood merge into a whole of classical perfection.

Dьrer came from a Hungarian family of goldsmiths, his father having settled in Nuremberg in 1455. In The Painter's Father Dьrer shows the face with respectful sensitivity. The technique is pencil-like, precise, and enquiring; the description achieved has a hard brilliance. However, the rest of the picture may be incomplete, or not all Dьrer's work. The rudimentary background is a far cry from the detailed one in Dьrer's own Self-portrait, and the sitter's clothing is hardly more than sketched in.

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