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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Most Important Works of Art - Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528)


Albrecht Dürer has been acclaimed as the greatest German artist. His influence has been profound, not only on his contemporaries and followers in the 16th century but also right down to the present day. Primarily known for his prints, engravings, and woodcuts , he was also an accomplished painter, he was the son of a goldsmith from Hungary who had trained in the Netherlands and settled in Nuremberg, where Albrecht was born. 

Early indications of his genius are evident in a charming and extremely competent self-portrait at age of 13 (1484) executed in the challenging medium of silverpoint. This was first of a series of self-portraits, in drawings and in paint, that he produced over the course of his life, which provide an invaluable insight into his character and personality, as well as his skill. The drawings are intimate insight into Durer's self-awareness, not intended for th public but for private viewing, while the paintings are more self-conscious - they depict Durer as he wished to be seen.

Albrecht Dürer. Self-Portrait with a Landscape, 1498. 

On his return home the following year, he made watercolor paintings of the landscape, which are very relevant to the Self-Portrait with a Landscape, 1498. The next ten years were incredibly productive and established his international reputation. During this period he painted the two remaining self-portraits:  Self-Portrait with a Landscape in 1498, when aged 26, and his last, Christ-like one in 1500 aged 29, by which time he was already famous and much sough after.

Albrecht Dürer. Self-portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe, 1500.

After completing his apprenticeship, Durer traveled for four years. He produced the first of his painting self-portraits in 1493, at the age of 23; probably in Strasbourg. H returned to Nuremberg in 1494, when he married. Later, in 1494, he made his first trip to Venice, where he encountered at first-hand the Italian Renaissance, which had a tremendous effect upon him an chis consequent development as an artist, and as a person. Most importantly for him, he encountered there a different attitude toward art and artists. In his native Germany, artists were still regarded - in the convention of Middle Ages - as craftsmen, within the rigid order of the Nuremberg guilds. In Italy he found a philosophical and intellectual approach to art, which accorded with his own aspirations. This is the crux of the changing status of the artists at this period.

Durer relished the social position accorded to artists in Italy and during his second visit to Venice he wrote in a letter of his reluctance to return to Nuremberg: "Here I am a lord, at home I am a parasite."

By their nature, self-portraits portray the artist trough his work: the artwork is a depiction of self, both by the image produced and the means by which the image is achieved: it shows what the artist can do and what he was like. This dual aspect is reflected in the inscription: I have thus painted myself, I was 26 years old. It is also a consummate piece of self-promotion. It epitomizes the aspirations of "Renaissance man" within the context of the changing the status of the artist. Durer regarded the calling of art as a noble one that was divinely inspired by God. This is how he wished to be seen: as an aristocratic young nobleman, posed in all his finery. 

Normally inscriptions serve to counter the illusion of a picture by drawing attention to the surface of the pairing. By placing it parallel to the window, it becomes part of the illusion. 

Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471 - 1528 Nuremberg)
The Fall of Man (Adam and Eve)
Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471 - 1528 Nuremberg)
The Fall of Man (Adam and Eve) - See more at:
Durer was an outstanding painter, draftsman and writer, but it was his printmaking that spread his fame. He was the first artist to establish his own printing business, on a par with his painter's workshop, and he revolutionized the techniques of woodcut printing and engraving.
He was fascinated by the idea of perfect human form. His style in painting highly symmetrical. Adam and Eve are depicted in a Garden of Eden. Adam holds a branch of the tree of life from which Eve broken a branch. The painting closely resembles Michelangelo’s’ David and Botticelli’s Venus. The artist uses Latin inscriptions and the main composition is circles triangles and squares. Very symmetrical in form, Durer was a master of composition.
Another Durer's masterwork is Melencolia I, 1514. 

Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer.    

In this work, Durer used a burin (s fine steel tool) to etch his design onto a copper plate, achieving a significant degree of expressivity and detail of line, combined with an extraordinary depth of total range through detailed cross-hatching and tiny incisions that create a smooth transition of grey tones. The intricacy and drama of Durer's subject matter endowed the modest medium with a new authority. This engraving has become the quintessence of the Renaissance print, and its meaning has provoked much dispute. The winged figure in a meditative pose has been seen as a self-portrait of Durer in the grip of the first of the three types of melancholy, melancholia imaginativa. The magic square on the wall alludes to a possible motive for the artist’s melancholy – the death of his mother on 5 May 1514 – and various details refer to the four humorous, which since antiquity had been held responsible for a person’s individual disposition. At the time of the Renaissance, melancholy was associated with genius and creativity, and the engraving may be interpreted as a highly complex allegory of the struggles of the artist. 

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