Self-portrait at twenty-eight (1500)

Albrecht Dürer – German Renaissance Art Genius

Albrecht Durer. Painting
Albrecht Durer. Painting “Hare”

Albrecht Dürer is a brilliant master of medieval painting, engraving and graphics. Dürer is also known in the history of Europe as a talented mathematician, art theorist and author of practical guides for artists in German. In the last years of his life, Albrecht Dürer created a new theory of fortification and wrote a detailed autobiography for posterity.

Page from the prayer book of Maximilian I with marginal drawings by Albrecht Dürer 1515
Page from the prayer book of Maximilian I with marginal drawings by Albrecht Dürer 1515

Biography of Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer was born into the family of an emigrant from Hungary and the daughter of a local jeweler. He was the third child of eighteen born children in the family. But besides him, only two of his younger brothers survived to adulthood.

Self portrait (1498)
Self portrait (1498)

The artist’s father, Albrecht Dürer the Elder, from childhood tried to instill in his son an interest in working in a jewelry workshop, but to no avail. The teenager showed a passionate desire to draw and at the age of 15 began to study in the workshop of Michael Wohlgemuth. Here the young man mastered the basics of painting and wood engraving, helped the teacher create illustrations for the famous Book of Chronicles.

In 1490, Dürer set out on a journey through the cities of the Holy Roman Empire to learn from other masters. In Colmar, he managed to meet the brothers of the recently deceased famous copper engraver Martin Schongauer and work in his workshop. Albrecht studied the art of woodcutting In Basel. He painted the famous “Self-Portrait with a Thistle” In Strasbourg and sent it to his hometown as a gift to his bride.

Self-portrait at twenty-eight (1500)
Self-portrait at twenty-eight (1500)


Upon returning home in 1494, Dürer married a girl of a noble family, Agnes Frey, and thereby increased his social status. Two months after the wedding, the artist went on a trip to Italy, where he studied creativity: Andrea Mantegna; Antonio del Pollaiolo; Giovanni Bellini. During this period appeared he painted many landscapes.

Paumgartner Altarpiece (1503)
Paumgartner Altarpiece (1503)

Returning from the Apennines in 1495, Dürer finally opened his own workshop in his native Nuremberg. He was able to come to grips with the production of engravings on wood and copper. Over the next 10 years, he actively collaborated with local publishers, created many woodcuts, including for the “Apocalypse” and “The Passion of St. Brigid” by Anton Koberger.

At the same time, the author’s fame as a master of painting is growing. He paints portraits of his compatriots, creates the famous canvas “Adoration of the Magi”, the polyptych “Seven Sorrows” and the altarpiece “Dresden Altar”.

Portrait of Ulrich Stark (1527), Albrecht Dürer
Portrait of Ulrich Stark (1527)

From 1505 to 1507 Dürer went to Italy again.

In Venice, he painted the painting “The Feast of the Rosary” and earned the fame of a skilled painter among local artists.

In 1507-1520 Dürer again lived and worked in Nuremberg. He diligently honed the skill of engraving, since it was this type of art that brought the author the greatest income. The master created many engravings to order, tried himself in the drypoint technique.

Way to Calvary (1527), Albrecht Dürer
Way to Calvary (1527)

In 1520-21, the master, already recognized in Europe, went to Holland. Here he studied the works of famous local artists: the van Eyck brothers: Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck; Hugo van der Goes; Dirk Bouts; Hans Memling. On the way back, he made many sketches with views of the Rhine and Main. In recent years, the great master has created works that are profound from an artistic point of view and have written a book on anatomical proportions.

Albrecht Dürer died on April 6, 1528 in his native city, where his grave is located.