Happy Birthday Herr Dürer

Born on May 21, 1471, Albrecht Dürer was one of the finest – and certainly the most popular – German artist. He lived and painted at the same time as Michelangelo and Leonardo, and brought the Renaissance from Italy to Northern Europe. His art brilliantly embodied the theories of perspective and proportion, and his works show an amazing passion for realistic detail.

He was born in Nuremberg, Germany, and other than when he went to the Netherlands and then Italy for training, he lived there his entire life. He was a child prodigy and a versatile artist – his travels allowed him to combine the detailed realism of Netherlandish Renaissance Art with the beauty of Florentine Renaissance. He was a master at woodcut engravings and the prints he made from them were extremely popular. His skills in woodcut engraving and printmaking remain unsurpassed to this date. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. The popularity of his prints and their lower cost made them bestsellers – making him the first bestselling artist in the world.

The monumental nature of his paintings, particularly his later self-portrait in which he bears an uncanny resemblance to Christ, and uses his initials significantly as AD 1500 (for the year of the painting) are all for the purpose of giving his profession the elevated stature that artists enjoyed in Italy, in contrast to the craftsman type stature they held in northern Europe. His exquisite self-portraits are breathtaking in every way – and show his journey from child prodigy to a great Renaissance artist.

So Happy 559th to this talented and versatile powerhouse of an artist.

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