Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Albrecht Durer was born in Nuremberg on May 21, 1471. His father moved from Hungary and was known as the best jeweler. The family had eighteen children; the future artist was born the third. Being the son of a city dweller who had many children, he had to feed himself from an early age, and care for food did not leave him all his life. In the years of his celebrity, Durer was not a poor man and stories about this arose from a misunderstanding. At the same time, his position was very unenviable compared to the luxury in which the famous Italian artists lived. He was a man of genius; he was very educated and able to observe nature. His imagination was rich, and his drawing was extremely good.
Durer from early childhood helped his father in a jewelry workshop, and he had great hopes in regard to his son. But the dreams did not come true. Albrecht was sent the Nuremberg artist Michael Wolgemut at the age of 15. Wohlgemuth was not only an excellent artist but also skillfully worked on the engraving on wood, copper and perfectly passed his knowledge to the diligent student.
The First Picture
Having finished his studies in 1490, Durer wrote his first painting “Portrait of the Father” and went on a journey in order to learn from other masters and gain new impressions. He visited many cities in Europe raising his level in the visual arts. During this period, the artist was married to a girl from a wealthy family by prior arrangement with him and her fathers. This event allowed him to raise his status and get capital to open his own business. Durer began to draw engravings and soon began to acquire success and popularity. Working tirelessly, he tried to expand the narrow and crafty horizons of the then German artists.
Fame and Popularity
Durer was friends with the most prominent humanists in Europe. Among its customers were rich burghers, German princes, and emperor Maximilian I, for whom he, among other major German artists, performed drawings with a pen to the prayer book (1515). In a series of portraits of the 1520s, Dürer recreated the type of man of the Renaissance era, imbued with a proud consciousness of the self-worth of one’s own self, charged with intense spiritual energy and practical purposefulness.
A self-portrait of Albrecht Durer at 26 years old wearing gloves is particularly interesting. Hands of a model lying on the pedestal are a well-known technique for creating the illusion of proximity between the portrayed and the viewer. Durer could learn this visual trick on the example of such works as Mona Lisa. He saw her while traveling to Italy. The landscape that is seen in the open window is a feature typical of northern artists, such as Jan Van Eyck and Robert Campen.
The glory of Albrecht Durer was growing every year; his works were respected and recognizable. Having met Maximilian I, the artist showed two portraits of his predecessors painted in advance. The Emperor was delighted with the paintings and immediately ordered his portrait, but he could not pay immediately, so he began to pay Durer a decent award every year. When Maximilian died, the premium was no longer paid, and the artist went on a journey to restore justice, but he did not succeed. And at the end of the trip, Albrecht fell ill with an unknown disease, possibly with malaria, and suffered from seizures for the remaining years.
His last years of life Durer worked as a painter, one of the important paintings is “The Four Apostles.” Researchers of the works of the famous artist come to disagreements, someone sees four temperaments in this picture, and someone talks about Durer’s respond to controversy in religion. But Albrecht took his thoughts to the grave on this matter. Eight years after the disease, Durer died on April 6, 1528, in the city, where he was born.
Features of Creativity
The content of the formidable raging era, its ideological achievements were deeply reflected in the work of this artist. Durer generalized the realistic quest of predecessors and contemporaries into an integral system of artistic views and thereby laid the foundation for a new stage in the development of German art. The inquisitiveness of the mind, the multiplicity of interests, the striving for the new, the courage of great undertakings, the intensity and breadth of life’s perception place him next to the great Italians.
An attraction to the ideal harmonious beauty of the world, the desire to find a way to the cognition of the rational laws of nature permeates his creativity. Feeling agitated at the turbulent events of his time, Dürer was aware of the discrepancy with its classical ideals and created deeply national typical images of the people of his country, filled with inner strength and doubt, willed energy and meditation. Observing the reality, Durer was convinced that living nature could not be put into classical formulas. His creativity is full of striking contrasts. Rationality and feeling, the desire for monumental and attachment to detail are combined with it.
Living on the verge of two eras, Durer reflected in his art the tragedy of social crises that ended in the defeat of the peasant war. His creativity determined the leading direction of the art of the German Renaissance. His influence on contemporary artists was great; it penetrated to Italy and France. The creativity of Durer is imbued with the spirit of rebellion, desperate frenzy or rejoicing, high incandescence and excruciating expression of alternately flashing, dying, flaming color and light. Being a talented artist and engraver, for the whole biography, he created a lot of excellent engravings.
Durer’s drawings are very diverse both in terms of topics and ways of performing. Copper engravings and drawings on wood have spread throughout Europe and contributed to the development of these types of art. He had many good students so that the fame of his school lasted long after him.