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The Greatest Renaissance Painter and Engraver of All Time

Aug 17, 2007
When Albrecht Durer died in 1528 he left some 80 paintings, over 100 etchings, about 200 wood carvings and 800 drawings behind as his cultural legacy. His artwork has deep stories and hidden inner meanings of which many have only been theorized on. Below are some of his works and the theories on the meaning behind them.

Knight, Death and the Devil (also known as The Rider):

An engraving carved in 1513 by Durer, Knight, Death and the Devil, also known as The Rider, represents an allegory on Christian salvation. Unflustered either by Death who is standing in front of him with his hour-glass, or by the Devil behind him, an armored knight is riding along a narrow defile, accompanied by his loyal hound. This represents the steady route of the faithful, through all of life's injustice, to God who is symbolized by the castle in the background. The dog symbolizes faith, and the lizard religious zeal. The horse and rider, like other preliminary studies made by Durer, are derived from the canon of proportions drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Knight and the Landsknecht (Soldier Servant):

This woodcut was created in about 1497. It has been suggested by Friedlander (universally recognized as the greatest expert on Dutch and German paintings) that the subject is Saul on the way to Damascus to pursue the Christians who had fled Jerusalem.

Three Peasants in Conversation (Marketplace Peasants):

This scene has been connected by a number of commentators to the peasant uprisings of the period. It should be remembered, however, that Durer's wife Agnes sold her husband's woodcuts and engravings in a stall in the market square of Nurenberg , as well as at the fairs in other cities. Peasants were ever-present at these events, as vendors as well as buyers. The sword which the pheasant uses for a cane is similarly used as a satirical accessory in Martin Schongauer's engraving, Pheasant Family Going to to Market.

This engraving is related to the Sol Justitiae and to the Rustic Couple in technique, especially in the horizontal shading devoid of crosshatching.

The original plate was sold to Prince Dolgorouky, a Russian collector, in 1852. Its present wherabouts is not known. An impression of this engraving is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Peasant Couple Dancing (also known as Dancing Peasants):

There are different views and theories on what Durer intended by this image.

Koehler describes this print succinctly as follows: For individuality and for the happy expression of a transient mood in face as well as pose, these Dancing Pheasants are quite as much without rivals in Durer's oeuvre as knight, Death, and Devil.

Wolfflin comments that in spite of the elephantine stamping of their feet, the impression and the form are magnificent. The pheasants are not shown sneeringly as earlier, but as a character study.

Tietze finds that the group fills the picture area in a magnificent manner and, in spite of the massiveness, a feeling of their being swept off their feet is conveyed.

But Panofsky, in contrast, commented that it is a spectacle of statuesque heaviness and immobility; unambitious in content.
About the Author
Evelyn Whitaker writes articles for German Toasting Glasses http://www.german-toasting-glasses.com which specializes in custom engraved wedding gifts from Germany.
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