“I shall freeze after the sun”

October 3, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART | 0 Comments |

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

Anthony Bertram, in a note that is a masterpiece of concision, stated: “Dürer is one of the very few artists of whom it may be said that their craftsmanship was nearly too much for their genius.”`~





His level of detail is almost insane, but he was also a radical innovator in terms of imagery.


Elsbeth Tucher

As an illustration of his growth, stemming from troubled personal identity and the stirrings of the Reformation, consider the beautiful, albeit traditional, Sorrows:


Seven Sorrows of the Virgin

…and compare it to the painting of Christ among the doctors, in a dazzling modern rendering from Luke 2:47, and his allegory Melancholia (below):


Jesus doesn’t need to look it up (Christ Among the Doctors)

Dürer only took 5 days in Rome to paint Christ as a boy debating the ugly cynics, but plenty more days on preliminary sketches.


Bertram added of Dürer: “On the one hand he was the Gothic craftsman, humble, patient, painstaking, the greatest engraver of all times; on the other he was the intellectual fine gentleman of the Renaissance…he blended the high poetry of Italy with the intimate human prose of the North.”~


Martyrdom in Arcadia

“Above all he overcame his private dilemmas, sublimating the tendencies which engendered them and converting his subjective impulses into artistically and socially constructive forms.”^


Portrait of a young Rick Springfield…sorry, Oswolt Krel

My affairs will go as ordained on high.”

“Dürer has contrived…the first serious attempt to transplant the ideals of the South into northern soil.”*


Top Witch

Dürer “saw how in Germany he belonged to the old tradition of artist-craftsman while in Italy he was of the new tradition of culture and intellectuality.  “Oh! how I shall freeze after the sun!” he wrote from Venice, “Here I am a gentleman: at home, a parasite.”‘~


[~ Anthony Bertram, “Dürer’ (1937).] [^ Robert Smith, “Dürer, sexuality, reformation” (1984), p. 333.] [* E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, p. 263.]

And Another Thing: At the Brisbane Art Gallery in November 2021, amongst a very mixed bag of offerings, there were a great series of Dürer’s apocalyptic and biblical woodcuts circa 1496-7, featuring the Whore of Babylon, St. John on Patmos, beasts with many heads and horns, the sacrificial Lamb, and the enthroned in Heaven.  Each piece is a crowded collage of wonderful narrative imagery:


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