Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) was a German painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance. Born in Nuremberg, Dürer established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints.
He was in communication with the major Italian artists of his time, including Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci. His fifteen woodcuts (fifteen!)) series The Life of the Virgin (1498-1501) were much copied and the style of the artist’s work was disseminated beyond Germany. A self-portrait (1500), his first dated engraving, already reveals a level of assurance and technical mastery that far exceeds that of his contemporaries.
His four great woodcut biblical cycles—The Passion (1508-1511), The Life of Christ (1510-1512), The Large Triumphal Carriage or Triumphal Procession (1513), and The Apocalypse (1498; second edition, 1511; third edition, 1514)–were each hugely influential both in Germany and beyond. Dürer’s watercolors, drawings, and writings on art theory were equally significant.
His treatise On the Art of Measurement with Compass and Ruler (1525) was the first math book printed north of the Alps and had an important influence on the development of perspective in art. His manual of human proportions, entitled Underweysung der Messung (1525; The Admirable Foundation of Measurement), was similarly influential. Dürer’s engravings were so highly regarded that he was invited to the court of Emperor Maximilian I, where he produced a number of important portraits, including one of the famous Dürer Self-Portrait (1498).
His last great project was a series of sixteen large engravings illustrating the book of Revelation, entitled The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1511), The Seven Trumpets (1514), and The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1514); these were published as a folio in 1522, the year before his death.