Was it only Italy that produced top quality artists? No!
Albrecht Dürer became famous as both a painter and an engraver. He was born in Nuremberg, the son of a goldsmith. He learned about engraving (picture-printing) in his father’s workshop. He showed his skill at drawing with a self portrait at 13 years of age. At 15 he was apprenticed to the chief painter in the town. After his training he traveled Europe, including Italy. He learned from the paintings and engravings he saw and from other artists he met. He was appointed court printer to Emperor Maximilian, leader of the Holy Roman Empire.
Dürer is noted for his self-portraits, his portraits and his studies of plants and animals. He painted many self-portraits because he wanted to be remembered! The art of painting he said:
is to preserve the image of man after death
His portraits were realistic. He tried to reveal the features and the character of the person he painted.
Dürer is famous for his engravings. These were prints made from wood or copper on which pictures had been engraved (cut into them) with a sharp tool. Engravings demanded very fine lines and precise details. His most famous engravings were
- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
- St Jerome in his Study
- The Knight, Death and the Devil
Dürer produced over 1000 drawings and 100 paintings, and gave some of them away. He did not like people comparing his work. He said he wanted to
“silence people who said I was a good engraver but did not know how to handle colours”
Love of Nature
Dürer painted plants and animals in great detail. His Clump of Turf and his Young Hare are very realistic. His love of animals however was a cause of his death. He caught a fever while in Holland observing a stranded whale that had been washed ashore. He never fully recovered from this fever and died in 1528.
After his death, German painting went into decline, partly because of the influence of the Reformation. They say he was the most influential and copied artist Germany has ever had!
So there you go, Germany could match the Italians on some level when it came to Renaissance men…Italy still in the lead though!
For more on the Renaissance and other topics, be nosey! look around here!