“Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher” by Albrecht Durer
“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 centre of the German Renaissance.
The German Renaissance developed from the Italian Renaissance and spread Renaissance humanism which influenced the many advances made in the fields of architecture, the arts, and the sciences. Including the developments of printing and the Protestant Reformation that were to dominate the 16th century all over Europe.
Dürer was born in Nuremberg, and his vast body of work includes engravings, prints, altarpieces, portraits and watercolours and academic books. Dürer established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He founded communications with the many primary Italian artists of his time, and from 1512 he was patronised 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 reputation was enhanced by his theoretical treatises, which covered mathematics, perspective, and proportions. Both the Lutheran and Episcopal Churches also commemorate Dürer.
The first documentary mention of the city of Nuremberg was in 1050 as the location of an Imperial castle. The city expanded dramatically in importance due to its strategic place on key trade routes. During the late 12th century the German emperors transferred the city administration and the municipal courts to the Imperial mayor of the city. This gradual transferral of ever-increasing powers to the city mayor finally broke out into open hostility with the military and the captains of a Nuremberg castle which greatly influenced the independent traditions of the city.
Nuremberg was referred to as the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly because Imperial Diet (Reichstag) and courts met at Nuremberg Castle. The Diets of Nuremberg were the deliberative body of the Holy Roman Empire which was an important part of the administrative structure of the empire. In 1219, Frederick II granted the ‘Great Letter of Freedom’ which granted town rights, the privilege to mint coins, and an independent customs policy. Nuremberg soon became one of the great trade centres on the route from Italy to Northern Europe.
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Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher
- Title: Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher
- Artist: Albrecht Dürer
- Year: 1526
- Type: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 51 × 37 cm (20 × 14.5 in)
- Museum: Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
- Artist: Albrecht Dürer
- Born: 1471 – Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire
- Died: 1528 (aged 56) – Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire
- Nationality: German
- Movement: High Renaissance
- Notable works:
“If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.”
– Albrecht Dürer
Photo Credit: 1) Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons