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Albrecht Dürer


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Contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphaël, Albrecht Dürer was without doubt the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance.

Q1: What century did he live in?
a  15th
b  16th
c  17th

Living in Nuremberg, Germany, half-way between the Netherlands and Italy, he found inspiration in the work of painters of both the major European artistic centers of his time.

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But rather than simply imitating what others were doing, Dürer was very much an innovator.

He is, for example, the first artist who is known to have painted a self-portrait and to have done a landscape painting of a specific scene.


Q2: At what age did Dürer draw his first self portrait?
self-portrait 1484, silverpoint on paper 11x8 in, albertina, Vienna







Dürer was rightly proud of his achievement and years later he added the inscription: "This I drew, using a mirror; it is my own likeness, in the year 1484, when I was still a child."

(Click to enlarge)

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Dürers first painted self-portrait dates from 1493, when he was 22. In this work, quite possibly painted as a gift for his fiancée, his features are still youthful and he appears bashful.

Things with me fare as ordained from above, the artist inscribed at the top of the picture.

At 26, wearing elegant clothing and curled hair, Dürer presents himself as worldly, aristocratic and successful. 


durer26The landscape seen through the window in the background reminds the viewer that the artist had just returned from Venice, a leading center of the Italian Renaissance.



portrait in a fur collared robe 1500, oil on panel 26x19, Alte Pinakothek, Munich




Q3 :Who is pictured in this portrait by Dürer?
a Emperor Maximilian

Dürer published over 350 woodcuts and engravings which appeared with his famous AD monogram. monogram.jpg (2730 bytes)

1514 copper engraving 10x8 in, Staatlich Junsthalle, Karlsruhe
(Click to enlarge)

Q4 : What is the title of this engraving, one of Dürers most complex and important work?

a   Librarian at work
b   St. Jerome in his study
c   Nostradamus at home

Q5 : By 1500, there were several technological breakthroughs occurred, which one of these is not true?

a   movable type and the printing press were invented
b   each book had individual hand paintings
c   inexpensive paper was first manufactured
d   ordinary people were able to buy book

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Q6 : Most engravings are linear, but Dürer made engravings that looked almost like paintings. How are these made?

a   by cutting lines into a piece of wood, then inking the wood and printing the image on paper
b   by cutting lines into a metal plate, then inking the plate and printing the image on paper
c   by cutting lines into stone, then inking the stone and printing the image on paper



Dürer after all, spent much of his time as a printmaker and often complained that working in oils was time-consuming and badly paid.


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At least 60 of his oil paintings have survived, an approximate number since in a few cases art historians are divided over the attribution of a work. It is impossible to know how many oil paintings have been lost, but these 60 may well represent most of his major works.

(Click to enlarge)
Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand
The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand
1508Oil on canvas, transferred from panel
99 x 87 cm Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Finally, there are a thousand of his drawings and watercolors.
Dürer seems to have realized that future generations would be interested in what he had produced. ink and white paint on paper(Click to enlarge)

He carefully saved these works on paper, sometimes inscribing them with his monogram, the year and even a few words of explanation about the subject-matter, like the one on his self-portrait: I, Albrecht Dürer, depict myself with everlasting paints at the age of 28.

In 1512, Dürer was made court painter to Maximilian I, the king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor.
Emperor Maximilian I, 1519, Oil on panel 29x24 in Kunsthistorisches Museum, ViennaTo create his works, Dürer used many Italian innovations:

As a court painter, Dürer not only became portrait painter to the rich and famous of his time, he also developed friendships with well-known figures.  Erasmus of Rotterdam 1526 copper engraving 7x5in. National gallery of art, Washington Philipp Melanchthon, German humanist and philosopher, friend of Durer, 1526 copper engraving ,Staatlich Kunshalle, Karlsruhe
(Click to enlarge)

Q7 : Which movement was born in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages?

a   Humanism
b   Communism
c   Liberalism

Q8 : Who was the leading philosopher of the times?

a   Erasmus
b   Kant
c   Socrates

(Click to enlarge)
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This woodcut was done when Durer was 19. T wenty five years later, in 1514,   Dürer used as a model  a 93 year-old man.

Q9 :What is the Saint doing to the lion?

a   feeding it
b   petting it
c   taking out a thorn from his paw
St Jerome 1521, oil on oak panel 23x19 in. National Art Museum, Lisbon
Q10: Dürers favorite figure was
which Saint?

a   St. Jerome
b   St. Christopher
c   St. George

Our quiz page on the Renaissance  (previous)
Our quiz page on Rubens (next)

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Information and some pictures from the Scholastic Art Magazine
( Sept/Oct 2001

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