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Albrecht Durer: Catalyst Of The Northern Renaissance

2460 words - 10 pages

When one thinks of the Renaissance, usually what comes to mind is the Italians or Italy, where artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Raffaello Sanzio trained, studied, and worked. These artists are based mainly in Southern Europe of course, but what about Northern European countries like Germany? What were the Germans up to and how did this new way of thinking as well as new use of techniques and tools spread up there, to Germany, and other countries? It is believed by many that Albrecht Durer was the main catalyst and one of the most important contributors for the Northern Renaissance. Many artists visited Italy at the time of the Italian Renassaince, but Durer seemed to be someone who completely embraced the ideas that were being introduced and instantly started incorporating techniques and ideas in to his work. His passion for the rebirth of the arts and his craft in general made him one of the greatest, most notable artists of his period.
Durer was a German artist with many talents including printmaking, painting, engraving, and goldsmithing. He was born in Germany on May 21st, 1471 to his father, who was a goldsmith. In turn, Durer was taught the ways of metal working as an early teenager. However, though his metal work was indeed good, he would later be known for his wood carving prints and paintings more so than his metal work. Around the age of fifteen, his father saw that Durer was particularly good at drawing compared to his metal work. Even though he would have rather seen his son continue working as a goldsmith, he let Durer fall into apprenticeship under Michael Wolgemut, a German painter and printmaker, to develop these skills he saw in his son. Soon after this apprenticeship, Durer had to go away for four years on the traditional German journey where he would study in other areas of art and move from town to town to learn from different workshops to further his skills as a craftsman.
His travels led him to several countries and artists. Minott explains that Durer’s “return from Italy to Nuremberg in 1495 at the age of twenty-four marks the end of his formative journeyman years” (7). A few months later, Durer made a trip to Italy. At this time, Nuremberg was facing a plague as well and may have led Durer to this decision. He went alone, painting watercolor sketches on his way to the country. A few of these were of landscapes, later to be referenced and used to create works such as Nemesis (Fig. 1). These were definitely examples of some of the earliest pure landscape studies in Western art. From the only two trips Durer took to Italy, he became completely inspired and fascinated by the idea of the rebirth of art and influence of the talented artists in Venice. Durer learned more tricks of the trade as well, dealing with dry point wood engraving and more. He also enjoyed incorporating a good amount of symbolism or stories in to his pieces. “Nemesis’ symbolic attributes [for...

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