Echoes of Italian art are apparent in most of Durer paintings, drawings and graphics. Italian influences were slower to show in his graphics than in his drawings and paintings. Albrecht Durer was the central figure in the German Renaissance and one of the most outstanding personalities in the history of art.
Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony from 1496, was one of Albrecht’s patrons. He commissioned Albrecht to paint several altarpieces, The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, The Jabach Altarpiece, The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand and The Adoration of the Magi. The latter was considered to be one of the masterpieces among Durer paintings.
The wealthy Nuremberg citizens were among the other patrons of Durer paintings, consisting of religious works. Among the pieces commissioned by these patrons included Lot Fleeing with His Daughters from Sodom, The Paumgartner Altarpiece, Lamentation for Christ and The Adoration of the Holy Trinity. These commissions were completed between 1498 and 1511.
Albrecht became an early and enthusiastic follower of Martin Luther. This new faith can be sensed in the growing austerity in style and subject of his Durer paintings representing religious works after 1520. The climax to this trend is masterfully represented by The Four Holy Men, which was completed in 1526.
Other than his Durer paintings, Albrecht also wrote and published theoretical works such as Manual of Measurement and Various Instructions for the Fortification of Towns, Castles and other Localities. These manuscripts were written in 1525 and 1527, respectively.
The range and versatility of Durer paintings was astonishing, to say the least. Albrecht’s woodcuts and engravings made him famous across Europe. He remains to be considered as the greatest printmaker of all time. He was equally successful at religious and secular subjects, as an oil painter.