Albrecht Durer (DYOO rer) was born in Nuremberg, Germany. We know little about his early life except the fact that he was the son of a leading goldsmith in Nurembert. He was one of seventeen children born in the family, but only three of them lived to grow up; Albrecht and his brothers Andreas and Hans. His father was a good man who cared about the education of his children and taught them daily that "we should love God and deal truly with our neighbors". The elder Durer was disappointed when his son became more interested in painting than in following the goldsmith trade.
We know a lot about him as a man because of the abundance of art works he left and his writings. He seemed to realize he would become famous and wanted people to know a lot about him and the pictures he made.
Also ten letters survive that he wrote to his friend Willibald Pirckheimer. They remained lost for 200 years until they were discovered hidden in a wall.
He made a thousand drawings and watercolors and is considered to be the greatest printmaker of all time. He liked making prints because he could make many reproductions of the same picture, and it was a lucrative business. He made a good profit from it. He made over 350 engravings and woodcuts. Connecticut College presents a large collection of Durer woodcuts. Sixty of his oil paintings remain. Frequently he signed and dated his works with his trademark signature.
A "self-portrait" is a drawing or painting an artist makes of himself or herself. In 1450, thirty-four years before Durer started making self-portraits Jean Fouquet created a small picture of himself in gold on black enamel. However self-portraits date back to 1365 B.C. in ancient Egypt. We will examine four of Durer's self-portraits.
The first drawing he made of himself was done in 1484 when he was thirteen years old. He used a looking-glass and drew his likeness. He said, "I drew it when I was still a child."
The first painted self-portrait was done when he was twenty-two years old. He married Agnes Frey in 1494 during this time of his life. They didn't have much money so they lived with his father.
When he was twenty-six he painted a portrait of himself as a young man dressed in elegant clothes. His friend said the painting was so realistic that Durer's dog barked and wagged his tail when he saw it.
The next portrait was painted when he was twenty-eight years old. It may have been inspired by something he wrote in his own notes, "the more we know, the more we resemble the likeness of Christ who truly knows all things".
Albrecht Durer age 22
Albrecht Durer age 26
Albrecht Durer age 28
In 1494 he visited Venice. When he was in the Alps he made watercolor drawings as he rode along in the carriage, capturing the view he saw from the widow. He would make other trips to Italy at a later date.
The featured work on this page is A Young Hare which was done in watercolor in 1502. The hare looks very realistic
He died in 1528 at the age of fifty-six.
Today if you go to Nuremberg you can visit the four-story Durer House and observe museum workers reproducing some of Durer's woodblock prints.
Kostner, Thomas, and Lars Roper.50 Artists You Should Know. New York: Prestel, 2006.
Wilder, Jesse Bryant. Art History for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007.
from Web Museum Paris
links at Art Cyclopedia
from the ArtChive
Paintings by Durer
at Olga's Gallery
Works of Durer
many woodcuts and engravings at CGFA
A story of the "Praying Hands" by Durer
Information about Durer
at Humanities Web
Albrecht Durer (audio)
Durer's Roman Letters (audio)
Engines of Our Ingenuity.
Durer - Watercolor
art lesson 8th grade, middle school
Easy Printmaking in the Classroom
art lesson for all levels
Informational site about the life, times, and art of German artist, Albrecht Durer.
Focus On Artists, Grades 4-8
By Teacher Created Resources
Art broadens horizons and allows children to see and evaluate are as they see art as a piece of individual human expression. Students will learn about famous and not-so-famous artists as well as the historical periods in which they lived--Renaissance & Baroque, 19th Century and 20th Century. Each lesson provides an overview with the focus, activity and vocabulary words; the lesson includes a materials list and instructions. Extensions activities and an introduction to each artist are also included. 112 reproducible pages, softcover. Grades 4-8.
A LIBRARY OF
ONLINE BOOKS and BOOK PREVIEWS
by T. Sturge Moore, 1905 (full view)
by L. Jessie Allen 1903 (full view)
Literary Remains of Albrecht Durer
Cambridge University Press (full view)
by L. Jessie Allen (selected pages) Order here
by Anja Eichler (no preview) Order here
Art History for Dummies
by Jesse Bryant Wilder (selected pages) Order
50 Artists You Should Know
by Thomas Koster, Lars Roper (review, no preview) Order
Pictures That Every Child Should Know
by Mary Schell Hoke Bacon 1908 (full view) Order here
Preview these Amazon books using the links below.
by John Berger (selected pages)
Woodcuts of Albrecht Durer
by (selected pages)
Six Durer Cards
by Albrecht Durer (selected pages)
Albrecht Durer His Engravings and Wood Cuts
by Anon (selected pages)
The engravings of Albrecht Durer
by (selected pages)
The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art
by Joseph Leo Koerner (selected pages)
by Peter R. Cromwell (selected pages)
Most Recent Comments ( See more comments on this page ) 2010-05-01
Your page has an error. It says that Albrecht Durer was the first artist to paint self-portraits, that is not correct. Please correct the error so as not to mislead students. Jean Fouquet's self-portrait (c. 1450 in other words 21 years before Durer was born and 34 years before his self portrait), a small picture created in gold on black enamel, is seen as "the earliest clearly identified self-portrait that is a separate painting, not an incidental part of a larger work." However, self-portraits are known to go back as far as the Amarna Period (c. 1365 B.C. ) of Ancient Egypt.
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