THE GREAT ARTIST - Durer (1471-1528)
Episode 3: Durer (1471-1528)
Far from the cultural centres of Italy, the German artist Albrecht Dürer established his workshop in the city of Nuremberg, providing a centre for what was to become known as the northern Renaissance. Dürer’s greatness lay in his ability to capture an unparalleled degree of reality in his art. Dürer was not only a master of the woodcut and the etching, with which he created nightmarish visions of the apocalypse, but also became one of the earliest masters of the oil painting. Among his most accomplished works in oil are a number of beautifully executed self-portraits, which represent the very first individual figure self-portraits in the history of art. These triumphant depictions of his own image are testament to Dürer’s own confidence in the growing status of the artist within his society. Like his Italian contemporary Leonardo, Dürer carefully studied the world around him, often with a scientist’s eye, making detailed studies of plants and animals, some of which remain unrivalled to this day. Though he began life as a lowly craftsman, increasingly Dürer became revered across Europe, employed to paint the portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. Dürer established the artistic traditions of Northern Europe as equal to those of Italy, and for that he remains Germany’s greatest artist.
Works featured in this programme include Self Portrait Holding a Thistle (1493, Louvre, Paris), Book of the Revelation of St John (1498, Durer’s House, Nuremberg), Self Portrait at 28 (1500, Alte Pinakothek, Munich) and The Four Apostles (1526, Alte Pinkothek, Munich).