ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471 – 1528)
Albrecht Dürer was born in Nurnberg, Germany, and began his training as a draughtsman in the goldsmith's workshop of his father. In 1486, Dürer began a three-year apprenticeship to the painter and woodcut illustrator Michael Wohlgemuth. In 1490 Dürer completed his earliest known painting, a portrait of his father.
During Dürer's years as a journeyman, he completed his first authenticated woodcut, designed several book illustrations, and painted a number of bold landscape watercolors dealing with subjects from the Alps.
While in Venice and perhaps also before he went to Italy, Dürer saw engravings by masters from central Italy. Dürer's secular, allegorical, and frequently self-enamoured paintings of this period are often either adaptations of Italian models or entirely independent creations that breathe the free spirit of the new age of the Renaissance.
After his second journey to Italy in 1505, Dürer's pictures of men and women from this Venetian period reflect the sweet, soft portrait types especially favored by Bellini. Some of his best master engravings came from this period.
While in Nürnberg in 1512, the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I enlisted Dürer into his service, and Dürer continued to work mainly for the emperor until 1519. He collaborated with several of the greatest German artists of the day on a set of marginal drawings for the emperor's prayer book, and completed monumental woodcuts made for Maximilian.
In July 1520, Dürer embarked with his wife on a journey through the Netherlands. Dürer's sketchbook contains immensely detailed and realistic drawings. Some paintings that were created either during the journey or about the same time seem spiritually akin to the Netherlands school. By July, the travelers were back in Nürnberg, but Dürer's health had started to decline. He devoted his remaining years mostly to theoretical and scientific writings and illustrations, although several well-known character portraits and some important portrait engravings and woodcuts also date from this period. –