Albrecht Dürer (Nuremberg, May 21, 1471 - Nuremburg, April 6, 1528) was a German painter, wood carver and engraver. He is best known for his woodcuts in series, as well as many of his individual prints. He was born in Nuremberg. His family came from Hungary, with the family name Thürer settling in Nuremburg at the middle of the 15th century and changing the family name to Dürer. His father, also called Albrecht, was a goldsmith and in 1468 he married a daughter of famous engraver Hieronymus Helfer, Barbara. They had eighteen children, of whom Albrecht and Hans Dürer, became a famous artists. At the age of fifteen Dürer was apprenticed to the principal painter of the town, Michael Wolgemut, producer of small works in the late Gothic style. Dürer learned not only painting but also wood carving and elementary copper engraving under Wolgemut. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1490 he traveled. In 1492 he arrived in Basel, to study in a well regarded painter-engraver Martin Schongauer's shop. There he evidently had some practice both in metal-engraving and in furnishing designs for the woodcutter. He traveled before he returned to Nuremberg. From this period, there's little of the work that can be attributed to him with certainty. On July 9, 1494 Dürer was married to Agnes Frey, the daughter of a local merchant. Soon after, he traveled to Italy, leaving his wife at Nuremberg. He went to Venice. His drawings and engravings that are closely linked to existing northern Italian works by Mantegna, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Lorenzo di Credi and others are evidence for that. Some time in 1495 Dürer must have returned to Nuremberg, where he seems to have lived and worked for possibly the next ten years, producing most of his notable prints. During the first few years from 1495 he worked in the established Germanic and northern forms but was open to the influences of the Renaissance. His best works in this period were for wood-block printing, typical scenes of popular devotion developed into his famous series of sixteen great designs for the Apocalypse, first carved in 1498. Counter pointed with the first seven of scenes of the Great Passion in the same year, and a little later a series of eleven on the Holy Family and of saints. Around 1504-1505 he carved the first seventeen of a set illustrating the life of the Virgin. In the more finely detailed and expensive copper-engraving Dürer was training himself. He attempted no subjects of the scale of his woodcuts, but produced a number of Madonnas and simple pieces. The Venetian artist Jacopo de Barbari, whom Dürer had met in Venice, came to Nuremberg for a while in 1500. He influenced Dürer with the new developments in perspective, anatomy and proportion, from which Dürer began his own studies. A series of extant drawings show Dürer's experiments in human proportion, up to the famous engraving of Adam and Eve (1504). Two or three other technical masterpieces were produced up to 1505, when he made a second visit to Italy. In Italy he turned his hand to painting, at first producing a series of works by tempera-painting on linen, including portraits and altarpieces, notably the Paumgartner altarpiece and the Adoration of the Magi. In early 1506 he returned to Venice, and stayed there until the spring of 1507. Dürer's engravings had by this time attained great popularity and had begun to be copied.
In Venice he was given a valuable commission from the emigrant German community for the church of St. Bartholomew. The picture painted by Dürer was closer to the Italian style - the Adoration of the Virgin, also known as the Feast of Rose Garlands. Dürer was back in Nuremberg by mid-1507 and remained there until 1520. His reputation spread all over Europe. He friendly communicated with all the masters of the age. The years between his return from Venice and his journey to the Netherlands are divided on the first five years, from 1507-1511 as pre-eminently painting years and after1511-1514 as engraving years. In first period he produced what have been accounted his four best works in painting - Adam and Eve (1507), Virgin with the Iris (1508), the altarpiece the Assumption of the Virgin (1509), and the Adoration of the Trinity by all the Saints (1511). In second period Dürer concentrated on engraving, both on wood and copper, but especially the latter. The major work he produced in this period was the thirty-seven subjects of the Little Passion on wood and a set of fifteen small copper-engravings on the same theme in 1512. The three most famous of Dürer's works in copper-engraving are The Knight and Death (or simply The Knight, 1513), Melancholia and St Jerome in his Study (both 1514). In the remaining years to 1520 he produced a wide range of works. On his fourth and last journey, with his wife in1520, he produced numerous drawings in silver-point, chalk or charcoal. Back in Nuremberg he began work on a series of religious pictures. No paintings on the grand scale were ever carried out. This was due because of the time he gave to the preparation of his theoretical works on geometry and perspective, proportion and fortification. In the last years of his life he produced, as an artist, comparatively little. Of his books, he succeeded in getting two finished and produced during his lifetime: one on geometry and perspective, and one on fortification. His work on human proportions was brought out shortly after his death in 1528.