Albrecht Durer Essay, Research Paper
Albrecht D?rer was born on May 21, 1471 in Nuremberg, Germany. His father Albrecht D?rer the elder, a goldsmith of lower middle class income, sent him to attend Latin school at St. Lorenz. Later D?rer served as an apprentice to his father. Right before becoming an apprentice of the painter Michael Wolgemut, in 1484, he completed some of his earliest work at around the age of 13, which was one of his self -portrait series. In 1494 D?rer increased social standing as a result of his arranged marriage to the daughter of a prosperous machine and instrument maker.
Albrecht D?rer was so great an artist, so searching and all-encompassing a thinker, that he was almost a Renaissance in his own right. D?rer was exceptionally learned, and the only northern artist who fully absorbed the sophisticated Italian dialogues between scientific theory and art. He also rejected the Gothic art and philosophy of Germany’s past, becoming the first great Protestant painter. 1494 was also the year he visited Venice to learn about the new Renaissance philosophy and art techniques. In Venice, D?rer had made drawings of exotic figures and animals and had done many nature studies. There he met Jacopo de’Barbari, whose figures, constructed according to geometrical methods, inspired D?rer to a lifelong study of human proportions. In 1495 he set himself in his own workshop, working mostly as a draftsman doing wood- and copper- engraving, but also making altar pieces. D?rer personally undertook all aspects of production-design, cutting, printing, and publishing. He used the medium of engraving for subjects that
reflected his theoretical interests, and used other mediums of drawing for his more intimate works, such as, portraits of family, friends, and patrons.
D?rer’s portrait of his mother, a charcoal drawing made in 1514, is one of many portraits of family, friends, and patrons in various media. In this drawing, D?rer captures the culmination of the quiet suffering she has endured most of her life due to life threatening illnesses. He has lightly gestured in the characteristics of his mother’s clothing and face. D?rer gives his gestural drawing direction through his use of defining contour lines, which bring out his mother’s face from the background making it the most important feature in this drawing. The contour lines amplify her wrinkles, and shape of the face, such as, her eyes, nose, and mouth. Contour drawing is also shown in her clothing. D?rer uses delicate and hard strokes of contour lines to place emphasis of light and dark and to accentuate how the material rests on her body. He uses delicate, brisk strokes with the charcoal to execute light shading in areas of her shawl, cape, facial features, and neck. This value range of light shading is also used to amplify the Iris’s of her eyes and wrinkles within her face and clothing. In this drawing, D?rer possesses a rich tonal range from the palest gray to pure black, depending on the pressure of his application. He uses hard strokes in is shading to define the areas of dark, and he uses dark shading to bring out his mother’s hair and sparse eyebrow hair. He also uses his dark shading technique to define the crevices in her face and neck, the irises of her eyes, and the pleats and stitching in her clothing. D?rer has used the negative space around the drawing as an area to place a description of his drawing. At the upper-right-hand corner of his mother’s portrait, D?rer wrote, “This is the mother of Albrecht D?rer when she was 63 years old” (Ripley 48). Visually, D?rer has portrayed his mother as a survivor from the harsh trials of life. His application in the areas of light, dark, and detail around her face and facial features depicts her as more than a person who has suffered, but also as an ethereal being of great internal strength and maternal qualities.
D?rer was immersed in the great realistic tradition of Netherlander art and the mysticism of German art, but he also sought to encompass the monumental and idealizing tendencies of the Italian Renaissance. Though he failed to achieve a true synthesis, the vitality and expressive force of his art make him one of the greatest artists of all times.
Ripley, Elizabeth. D?rer. Philadelphia / New York: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1958.
Pgs. 6, 8, 14, & 48.
Homolka, Jaromir. Albrecht D?rer/The Feast of Rose Garlands. London: Spring Art
Books., 1961. Pgs. Intro, 1, 3, 17-19, & 21.