Durer: The Italian & Northern Renaissance

The relationship between Italian art, Durer and the Northern artists

This lecture charts the rise of the precocious and talented youth that was Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg in the Holy Roman Empire on 21st May 1471.  It will explore his early life and works, and also the long lasting influence that Dürer had on the Italian Renaissance, not mention the influence that the Italian Renaissance had on Dürer.

The years following the early Renaissance in Europe opened up a world of cultural, artistic and intellectual exchange for the gifted and the curious. The map of Europe at that time was determined by the reach of the Holy Roman Empire and the countries that we know of today as Germany and Italy did not exist as such but were groups of city states which shared aspects of language and culture.  Trade between all parts of the Empire was the norm, allowing for the spread of goods and ideas to flourish and.  It was into this world that Albrecht Dürer was born.

He left a vast body of autobiographical writings with the understanding that posterity would want to know about him, his art and his life.  He was one of the very first artists to write about themselves, if not the first.  He also wrote extensively on art practice including treatises on measurement and human proportion in order to educate future German artists, as he was determined to counter the Southern European view of Germans as being ‘a race of savage drunkards from a wild country with a poor climate, responsible for the destruction of ancient Rome’.

Short reading list:

E. Panofsky: The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer (Princeton, 1955).

J.C. Hutchison: Albrecht Dürer. A Biography (Princeton, 1990).

G. Bartrum (ed.): Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy (British Museum Exhibition catalogue, London, 2002).

H. Wölfflin: The Art of Albrecht Dürer (Phaidon, 1971).

F. Anzelewsky: Dürer: His Art and Life (New York, 1980).

J.L. Koerner: The Moment of Self-portraiture in German Renaissance Art (Chicago, 1993).

M. Evans: Dürer and Italy revisited: the German Connection


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