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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) was born in Nuremberg, and his vast body of work includes engravings, prints, altarpieces, portraits and watercolors, and academic books. Dürer established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He cultivated communications with the major Italian artists of his time, and from 1512 he was patronized by emperor Maximilian I.

Dürer’s introduced classical motifs into Northern art, and through his association with Italian artists and German humanists, he became one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. His authority was supported by his theoretical treatises, which covered mathematics, perspective, and proportions. Both the Lutheran and Episcopal Churches also commemorate Dürer.

A Tour of Albrecht Dürer’s Masterpieces

  • Melencolia I
    • Melencolia I depicts an enigmatic and gloomy winged female figure as a personification of melancholia. Holding her head in her hand, she stares past the busy scene in front of her. The foreground is strewn with symbols and tools associated with carpentry and craft workshops, including an hourglass, weighing scales, a hand plane, and a saw. Objects relate to alchemy, geometry, or numerology are also featured. Above and to the right of the figure is a structure with a magic square embedded in the wall. Also, a ladder against the wall is leading beyond the frame. The sky contains a rainbow, a light source, and a bat-like creature bearing the text “MELENCOLIA I.” Museum: Art Gallery of South Australia

  • Salvator Mundi
    • “Salvator Mundi” by Albrecht Dürer is an unfinished painting showing Christ as Savior of the World. He raises his right hand in blessing, and his left holds a crystal orb representing the earth. Dürer began this work before he departed for Italy in 1505 and only completed the painting of the richly colored drapery. The unfinished picture of the face and hands show Dürer’s detailed preparatory drawings. This painting shows Dürer’s extensive and meticulous drawing skills. Museum:  Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

  • Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher
    • “Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher” by Albrecht Dürer depicts a local patrician who was a senator and member of the executive council in the city of Nuremberg. It was probably commissioned for an official celebration and exhibited at the city’s town hall. The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the center of the German Renaissance. Museum: Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

  • Portrait of Jakob Muffel
    • “Portrait of Jakob Muffel” by Albrecht Dürer depicts the burgomaster of Nuremberg, who was the chief magistrate of the city. In 1525, the year before this painting, Nuremberg accepted the Protestant Reformation, and in 1532, the religious Peace of Nuremberg, by which the Lutherans gained important concessions, was signed in the city. Dürer’s introduced classical motifs into Northern art, and through his association with Italian artists and German humanists, he became one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. His reputation was enhanced by his theoretical treatises, which covered mathematics, perspective, and proportions. Both the Lutheran and Episcopal Churches also commemorate Dürer.  Museum: Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

  • Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight
    • “Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight” by Albrecht Dürer is a panel painting by the German Renaissance artist, it is the last of his three painted self-portraits. This painting is the most personal, iconic, and sophisticated of his self-portraits. It has similarity to many earlier representations of Christ. It includes the conventions of religious art, including its dark tones. Also, Dürer looks directly at the viewer, and he raises his hand in an act reminiscent of a religious gesture. In its directness and apparent confrontation with the viewer, this self-portrait is unlike any that came before. Museum: Alte Pinakothek

  • Self-Portrait with Gloves
    • “Self-portrait at 26” by Albrecht Dürer is the second of the German Renaissance artist, three self-portraits. In this self-portrait, Dürer proudly depicts himself as he believed best reflected an artist of his ability. Painted after his first trip to Italy, he is drawn with a proud bearing and the assured self-confidence of a young artist at the height of his ability. Dürer’s image dominates the space as he rests his hands in beautiful luxurious silk gloves, and he wears the high fashion of the Italian and German Renaissance. Dürer presents himself with a seductive look, wearing a draped hat with a tassel over his long, curled blond hair locks. He looks out at the viewer with a cool, ironic stare. His third self-portrait, “Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight,” three years later has a very different mood. Museum: Prado Museum

  • Feast of the Rosary
    • “Feast of the Rosary” by Albrecht Dürer shows the Virgin Enthroned holding the Child. Above her head are two flying angels holding an elaborated royal crown made of gold, pearls, and gems. The throne’s backrest is covered with a green drape and by a ceremonial fabric over the throne, which is held by two flying cherubs. At the Virgin’s feet is an angel playing the lute. Mary is in the act of distributing rose garlands to kneeling worshippers, lined up in rows at the sides. This composition motif was a Flemish scheme that had become widespread in Germany at the time. On the left of the throne, is Pope Julius II, who is being crowned by the Child who followed by a procession of religious figures. On the right of the throne is the German emperor Frederick III, being crowned by Mary and followed by a lay procession. The pope and the emperor were the supreme authorities of the Catholic world, but they have laid the papal tiara and the imperial crown on the ground next to the angel as they kneel to receive Madonna’s blessing. Museum: National Gallery in Prague

Albrecht Durer

Reflections

  • “What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.” – Albrecht Durer

A Tour of Artists and their Art

Albrecht Dürer Quotes

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“Why has God given me such magnificent talent? It is a curse, as well as a great blessing.”

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“As I grew older, I realized that it was much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.”

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“Simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.”

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“I hold that the perfection of form and beauty is contained in the sum of all men.”

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“What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.”

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“Love and delight are better teachers than compulsion.”

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“If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.”

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“Help us to recognize your voice, help us not to be allured by the madness of the world, so that we may never fall away from you, O Lord Jesus Christ.”

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“And since geometry is the right foundation of all painting, I have decided to teach its rudiments and principles to all youngsters eager for art.”

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“Simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.”

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“Sane judgment abhors nothing so much as a picture perpetrated with no technical knowledge, although with plenty of care and diligence.”

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“The artist is chosen by God to fulfill his commands and must never be overwhelmed by public opinion.”

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“No single man can be taken as a model for a perfect figure, for no man lives on earth who is endowed with the whole of beauty.”

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“If a man devotes himself to art,
much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.”
– Albrecht Dürer

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Photo Credit: 1) Albrecht Dürer [Public domain]

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