Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

Born in Nuremberg, Dürer was apprenticed to the painter Michel Wolgemut (1434-1519). He travelled widely from 1492 to 1494, visiting Schongauer's workshop in Colmar, the leading German painter and engraver at the time. From 1494-5 he visited northern Italy, where the works of artists such as Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini had a powerful influence on him.

In 1495 Dürer set up his own workshop in Nuremberg, specializing in the production of innovative, high quality prints, such as the Apocalypse series of 1498, and paintings. From 1505 to 1507 he revisited Venice, where he painted the Feast of the Garlands, for the German merchants (National Gallery, Prague).

Dürer's revitalization of print-making techniques attracted the attention of many Nuremberg scholars and patrons. They informed Dürer about the intellectual studies of the Italian Renaissance and advised on subjects for his art. He later published his ideas on art theory. His woodcuts inspired the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I to use the medium for colossal commemorative projects, in which Dürer played a leading part.

Dürer excelled at a variety of drawing, painting and printing techniques. His Europe-wide fame rested on his graphic art. The Renaissance scholar and writer, Erasmus (1469-1536), called him 'the Apelles of black lines', a reference to the most famous, ancient Greek artist.

The British Museum's collection of Dürer's prints and drawings is one of the finest and covers his entire career. The Museum also houses some of the blocks for his woodcuts.

Related galleries