Monday, April 6, 2009

Albrecht Dürer, Artist 1528

The Crucifixion
Woodcut, 1511

Albrecht Dürer, was born in Nuremberg, May 21, 1471. He was the first northern European artist to immerse himself in the art of the Italian
Renaissance and was greatly influenced by it. Durer was also influenced by Martin Luther and when he heard that Charles V had declared him "notorious heretic" and not knowing that Luther had taken refuge in Wartburg, he wrote in his dairy:
I know not whether he lives or is murdered, but in any case he has suffered for the Christian truth...if we lose this man, who has written more clearly than any other in centuries, may God grant his spirit to another...His books should be held in great honor and not burned as the emperor commands.....O God, if Luther is dead, who will henceforth explain to us the Gospel?

The most often reproduced and widely known work of the Albrecht Dürer is the gray and white brush drawing on blue-grounded paper, entitled the "Hands of the Apostle," generally known as "The Praying Hands"

A deeply religious man, he was affected both in his thought and in his work by the apocalyptic spirit of the time in the face of famine, plague, and social and religious upheaval. His paintings and woodcuts are a close examination of the splendor--as well as the potential terror--of creation: the human body, animals, grasses, and flowers.

Although he remained a Roman Catholic throughout his life, he was a warm admirer of Martin Luther, and expressed regret that he had never been able to paint him "as a lasting memorial to the Christian man who has helped me out of great anxiety." He died at Nuremberg on 6 April 1528. Luther wrote to a friend:
Affection bids us mourn for one who was the best of men, yet you may well consider him happy that he has made so good an end, and that Christ has taken him from the midst of this time of trouble.... May he rest in peace with his fathers. Amen.

Recommended Reading:
The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations: Toward a Common Calendar of Saints

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