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This memorable artist was born at Nuremberg, in *7471. His father was a goldsmith, and was desirous that his son should follow his profession ; but the talents of Albert were directed to the arts. He placed himself under the tuition of Michael Wolgemuth, with whom he continued three years, who taught him to paint and engrave. His progress in these pursuits was so extremely rapid, that he very soon surpassed' his master. The emperor, Maximilian, delighted with his genius, took him into his employment, and very magnificently rewarded his services. The placid disposition of Albert Durer, and the suavity of his manners, procured for him the friendship of the great. He was no less esteemed by his brother artists, whose works he was ever ready to applaud. He sent his portrait, with several engravings, to Raphael, who, in return, transmitted him his resemblance and vatious drawings. During his travels in Holland, he formed an intimacy with Lucas of Leyden, a very skilful painter. Upon his return he was appointed a member of the Council of Nuremberg.
The perverse and avaricious temper of the wife of Albert Durer, troubled his repose, and shortened his life. He died on the eighth of April
, 1528, at the age of fifty
As a painter, Albert Durer may be called the father of the German school. He was not entirely exempt from the defects of the artists of his country, such as a dryness
in his contours, too much sameness in the folds of his draperies, a want of gradation in his colouring, and frequent errors in point of costume ; but the fertility of his genius, the truth and spirit of his compositions, brilliancy of colouring, and care in execution, will be ever admired. Vasari, speaking of Albert Durer, says, that he would have been the first of painters had he studied at Rome the chef d'œuvres of antiquity.
Albert devoted a great portion of his time to engraving. It is, indeed, by the progress be made in that art, and by his valuable prints, that he acquired his extraordinary reputation. He was the first who engraved upon wood, and the inventor of etching. In his life-time his prints were much in request, and still maintain a respectable place in the collections of amateurs. His works, including his wood engravings, comprize nearly four hundred and fifty subjects; but if to these be added the pieces engraved after his designs, with the copies, they exceed twelve hundred and fifty.
The knowledge of Albert Durer was not confined to the fine arts. Besides a “Treatise on the Proportions of the Human Body,” he composed several works on geometry, perspective, and on architecture, civil and military.