Journal Article

Art in German: Artistic Statements by Albrecht DÜrer

Jeffrey Ashcroft

in Forum for Modern Language Studies

Published on behalf of Court of the University of St Andrews

Volume 48, issue 4, pages 376-388
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0015-8518
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1471-6860 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqs025
Art in German: Artistic Statements by Albrecht DÜrer

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Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) was the first artist outside Italy to produce extensive written texts on the theory and practice of art, including two treatises, on geometry and perspective and on the proportions of the human body, printed in German and Latin editions. In particular, multiple drafts of introductions and dedicatory epistles, and of a discursive essay on aesthetics, document the formation and evolution of his thinking on art. These earliest writings by a Northern European artist precede and in some ways prefigure the modern notion of a definable genre of artists' statements. At this early stage, elements of biographical narrative, intellectual and aesthetic definition, didacticism and pragmatic instruction combine and interact. This article outlines the innovative character of Dürer's writings and their context in the German reception of Renaissance aesthetic theory and the conception of the status, training and practice of the artist. It presents and annotates new translations of two key texts on the nature and achievement of beauty in painting, which exemplify the intensive phase of Dürer's thinking and writing around 1513 and his final published statement of his aesthetics in 1528.

Keywords: Dürer, Albrecht; Pirckheimer, Willibald; Alberti, Leon Battista; da Vinci, Leonardo; aesthetic theory and practice; beauty in art; Geometry; human proportion; Renaissance

Journal Article.  7212 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Literature

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