Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), perhaps the most famous of all German artists, embodies the modern ideal of the Renaissance man-he was a remarkable painter, printmaker, draftsman, designer, theoretician, and even a poet. More is known about his thoughts and his life than about any other Northern European master of his time, since he wrote extensively about himself, his family's history, his travels, and his friends. His woodcuts and engravings were avidly collected and copied across Europe, and they quickly established his reputation as a master. Praised in life and elegized in death by such thinkers as Martin Luther and Erasmus, he served Emperor Maximilian and other leading church and secular princes in the Holy Roman Empire. Although there is a vast specialized literature on the Nuremberg master, The Essential Durer fills the need for a foundational book that covers the major aspects of his career. The essays included in this book, written by leading scholars from the United States and Germany, provide an accessible, up-to-date examination of Durer's art and person as well as his posthumous fame.
The essays address an array of topics, from separate and detailed studies of his paintings, drawings, printmaking, and sculpture, to broader concerns such as his visits to and interactions with Venice and the Netherlands, his personal relationships, and his relationships with other artists. Collectively these stimulating essays explore the brilliance of Durer's creativity and the impact he had on his world, exposing him as an artist fully engaged with the tumultuous intellectual and religious challenges of his time.
Larry Silver is Farquhar Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Peasant Scenes and Landscapes: The Rise of Pictorial Genres in the Antwerp Art Market, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Jeffrey Chipps Smith is Kay Fortson Chair in European Art and Professor of Art History at the University of Texas.