Albrecht Dürer was born the 21st of May, 1471 in Nuremberg, Germany. His father was a goldsmith, who taught him the trade. He also taught Albrecht how to draw, and although Dürer's father wanted him to continue a career with goldsmithing, he took more to drawing instead. Wanting to pursue a career as a drawer, Albrecht started to apprentice under Michael Wolgemut at the age of fifteen. Wolgemut was the leading artist in Nuremberg at the time, with a large workshop producing a variety of works of art, particularly woodcuts for books. With woodcuts, an artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts.
After he completed his apprenticeship, he went on a sort of journey to learn from other artists. This ‘journey’ lasted for four years, during which Dürer worked with numerous goldsmiths and painters. After he was done, he returned home and was quickly married to Agnes Frey, the daughter of a big brass worker at the time. Albrecht traveled a lot, working where he went. During his travels, he created watercolours and learned different printmaking skills, such as drypoint in which a sharp stylus or needle is used to scratch lines directly into the metal plate. The drypoint we’ve been learning about involves plexiglass, but the drypoint during this time, it involved metal plates instead.
After his first trip, he returned to Nuremberg, where he opened his own workshop. In this workshop, he worked greatly with woodblock, and during this time he created many images, including the two images below, all of which showed beautiful detail. The image on the left is known as The Four Horsemen, from The Apocalypse. The Apocalypse is a famous series of fifteen images created by Dürer, that brought him much fame. The image on the right is Hercules Conquering the Molionide Twins. The subject of this image is thought to be Hercules slaying the conjoined twin sons of Molione and Poseidon.
After a while, Dürer traveled again to Italy, this time working on painting. He at first started working with tempera on linen, as well as working on altarpieces and portraits. While he was held with high regards by the Venetians, he returned to Nuremberg. By this time, he was well known throughout Europe, and in turn, was on friendly terms with many important artists, such as Da Vinci or Raphael. After his return to Nuremberg, Dürer worked on both his paintings and woodblocks, and even gained a major patron, known as Maximilian I.
After Maximilian I passed away, Dürer and his wife traveled to the Netherlands where Dürer was to gain the patronage of a emperor known as Charles V. During this time, he created many drawings using silverpoint, chalk and charcoal. He also kept a log of the prints he sold, and how much he sold them for, which gives us a never before seen look at the monetary value placed on prints at this time. This log showed the he was not too profitable, which is odd due to his fame and notoriety throughout Europe. He finally returned to Nuremberg for the final time, where he shifted his focus to a more religious one. This shift of focus had an effect on him, in the way that he did not produce much as an artist in his final years. Dürer passed away the 6th of April, 1528 leaving behind a legacy that is still talked about and taught today.