Albrecht Dürer was born May 21, 1471 in Imperial Free City of Nüremberg, Germany. Painter, printmaker and draughtsman generally regarded as the greatest German Renaissance artist. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings.
Born the third son of the Hungarian goldsmith Albrecht Dürer, the Elder, Albrecht began as an apprentice to his father in 1485. His earliest known work, one of his many self portraits, was made in 1484 at age 13 (another self portrait was done in 1491, and a painting of himself as an extremely confident young man in 1493).
In 1494 Durer set up his own studio and in that same year married Agnes Frey. Theirs was a childless marriage. It was after their marriage he left on his first trip to Italy. From 1495 to 1505 in Nuremberg, Dürer produced a large number of works that firmly established his fame. These include his woodcut series the Apocalypse (1498); the engravings Large Fortune (1501-1502) and Fall of Man (1504). Between 1505 and 1507, Dürer once again traveled to Italy. In Venice he met Giovanni Bellini and other artists, and he obtained an important commission for a painting, the Madonna of the Rose Garlands (1506, National Museum, Prague), for the German Merchants’ Foundation.
During 1513 – 1514 Albrecht Dürer created the greatest of his copperplate engravings: the Knight, St. Jerome in His Study, and Melancolia I. The extensive, complex, and often contradictory literature concerning these three engravings deals largely with their enigmatic, allusive, iconographic details. Although repeatedly contested, it probably must be accepted that the engravings were intended to be interpreted together. There is general agreement, however, that Dürer, in these three master engravings, wished to raise his artistic intensity to the highest level, which he succeeded in doing. Finished form and richness of conception and mood merge into a whole of classical perfection. His last monumental works are two large panels, depicting the Four Apostles, 1526 presented originally as his gift to the city of Nuremberg. Albrecht Darer died in Nüremberg April 6, 1528. * The quality of Dürer’s work, his prodigious output, and his influence on his contemporaries all underscore the importance of his position in the history of art. In a broader context, his interest in geometry and mathematical proportions, his keen sense of history, his observations of nature, and his awareness of his own individual potential demonstrate the intellectually inquiring spirit of the Renaissance.