The Prints of Albrecht Dürer

Selections from the National Gallery of Canada

Albrecht Dürer, The Knight, Death, and the Devil, 1513.

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) is recognized as a critical figure in the dissemination of Italian Renaissance Humanism and classicist innovations throughout northern Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. His woodcuts and engravings were instrumental in establishing his fame. They were widely distributed during his lifetime and remain compelling today as images of astonishing originality of invention, iconographic complexity and technical virtuosity.

Dürer was born and worked most of his life in Nuremberg, a thriving centre of printmaking and book illustration at the time. Here Dürer learned the craft in the studio of Michael Wolgemut, a painter well known for his woodcut illustrations. Intrigued by artistic developments in Italy, Dürer travelled to Venice in 1494–95 and in 1505–07. Both visits had a profound impact on his art and printmaking. He began to explore the secrets of perspective and to wed ideals of beauty, proportion and harmony to a northern European taste for realism and detail.

Drawn from the National Gallery of Canada's significant collection of Dürer prints, the 50 works in this exhibition are representative of the artist's entire career. The selection demonstrates the masterful range of Dürer's printmaking genius and his innovative approach to subject matter and execution. Among the celebrated prints included are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1496–98), Saint Eustace (1501), Nemesis (The Great Fortune) (1502), Adam and Eve (1504), the sixteen Engraved Passion series (1507–13), The Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), Melancholia (1514), and Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony (1524).

Text provided by the National Gallery of Canada. Supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program. Media sponsor: Winnipeg Free Press.

Albrecht Dürer, Melancholia, 1514.


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