The Essential Durer


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), perhaps the most famous of all German artists, embodies the modern ideal of the Renaissance man—he was a remarkable painter, printmaker, draftsman, designer, theoretician, and even a poet. More is known about his thoughts and his life than about any other Northern European master of his time, since he wrote extensively about himself, his family's history, his travels, and his friends. His woodcuts and engravings were avidly collected and copied across Europe, and they quickly ...

See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$25.93 price
(Save 13%)$29.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $17.40   
  • New (5) from $23.55   
  • Used (6) from $17.40   
Sending request ...


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), perhaps the most famous of all German artists, embodies the modern ideal of the Renaissance man—he was a remarkable painter, printmaker, draftsman, designer, theoretician, and even a poet. More is known about his thoughts and his life than about any other Northern European master of his time, since he wrote extensively about himself, his family's history, his travels, and his friends. His woodcuts and engravings were avidly collected and copied across Europe, and they quickly established his reputation as a master. Praised in life and elegized in death by such thinkers as Martin Luther and Erasmus, he served Emperor Maximilian and other leading church and secular princes in the Holy Roman Empire.

Although there is a vast specialized literature on the Nuremberg master, The Essential Dürer fills the need for a foundational book that covers the major aspects of his career. The essays included in this book, written by leading scholars from the United States and Germany, provide an accessible, up-to-date examination of Dürer's art and person as well as his posthumous fame. The essays address an array of topics, from separate and detailed studies of his paintings, drawings, printmaking, and sculpture, to broader concerns such as his visits to and interactions with Venice and the Netherlands, his personal relationships, and his relationships with other artists. Collectively these stimulating essays explore the brilliance of Dürer's creativity and the impact he had on his world, exposing him as an artist fully engaged with the tumultuous intellectual and religious challenges of his time.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2010

"Provides a new and comprehensive introduction to Dürer's art, life, and times. Written throughout in a lucid yet scholarly style, it is deservedly destined to feature prominently on syllabi throughout the English-speaking world."—Burlington Magazine

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812221787
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/19/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Silver is Farquhar Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Peasant Scenes and Landscapes: The Rise of Pictorial Genres in the Antwerp Art Market, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Jeffrey Chipps Smith is Kay Fortson Chair in European Art and Professor of Art History at the University of Texas.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


The title of this volume clearly states its purpose. The Essential Dürer should provide newcomers to the artist as well as experienced viewers of his work an overview of the most important features of his oeuvre. Consequently, the organization of the essays begins with the major media and working methods of the artist, who excelled—even innovated—in painting, drawing, and the several media of printmaking, while also actively contributing designs for sculpture. The artist's complex personality and individual self-consciousness appear at every turn, from the biographical data that he provided as a personal memorial (even down to his recording of a nightmare!) to the subtle negotiations, both professional and spiritual, that he made within the tumultuous first decade of the Lutheran Reformation in his hometown of Nuremberg.

Of course, no man is an island. Albrecht Dürer interacted with the major artistic traditions of his day, both in the Netherlands and in Italy, especially Venice. He served as the familiar of princes, both the duke of Saxony and the Holy Roman Emperor, while maintaining close ties to the patrician elite of Nuremberg. Thus this volume investigates the artist's wider connections, even his interpretive fortunes in later German art history, as well as his individual artistic achievements.

Clearly large sections of libraries are already devoted to Albrecht Dürer, but several good reasons call for a new volume of such "essentials." For one thing, much of the important recent literature, including some major exhibitions and monographs, remains in German, inaccessible to the English reader. One of the ironies of twentieth-century Dürer scholarship is that the main foundational study of the artist's life and art, written by émigré Erwin Panofsky and first published during World War II in 1943, did not receive its translation from English into German until 1977 when it was undertaken by Lise Lotte Möller, who had been one of his last students at the University of Hamburg before his firing in 1933 by the National Socialists. Moreover, a topical yet broadly based essay approach to Dürer is not easy to find, and there really is nothing comparable in that accumulated library of earlier scholarship.

The scholars who have contributed to this volume are among the acknowledged experts on the artist who write in English. For the most part, they come from a younger generation, whose academic training was forged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. They consciously coordinated their efforts, beginning with an intensive academic workshop, held in 2000 at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Honing and revising these contributions has been an ongoing process to ensure that the essays are up-to-date with current art historical issues and Dürer scholarship. These essays have been kept deliberately terse but with enough scholarly references to assist the interested student to pursue research in various languages. Through this close attention to one artist by multiple authors, using their separate lenses of fundamental topics to address his manifold accomplishments, this volume strives to be considerably more than the sum of its parts or than any single author could provide.

Both editors are most grateful for the knowledge, judgment, and patience of all the contributors over nearly a decade of preparation of this volume. Crucially, the continuing support of our editor, Jo Joslyn, and director Eric Halpern of the University of Pennsylvania Press has enabled us to reach the completion of the project and produce the handsome volume that you now hold. During the formative process, facilitation at the Clark in the research workshop, coordinated by Darby English and promoted by director Michael Ann Holly, generously provided indispensable, interactive group discussion that shaped the entire project. Finally, the editors gratefully acknowledge each other for mutual scholarly and collegial support at critical moments in the process. At its culmination, they dedicate this book about one of art history's greatest figures to the community of scholars—past, present, and—especially in such an introductory volume—future.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

1 Dürer—Man, Media, and Myths
—Larry Silver
2 Dürer's Drawings
—Christiane Andersson and Larry Silver
3 Dürer and the High Art of Printmaking
—Charles Talbot
4. Dürer as Painter
—Katherine Crawford Luber
5 Dürer and Sculpture
—Jeffrey Chipps Smith
6 Dürer and Venice
—Andrew Morral
7 The Artist, His Horse, a Print, and Its Audience: Producing and Viewing the
—Ideal in Dürer's Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513)
—Pia F. Cuneo
8 Civic Courtship: Albrecht Dürer, the Saxon Duke, and the Emperor
—Larry Silver
9 Dürer and the Netherlands: Patterns of Exchange and Mutual Admiration
—Dagmar Eichberger
10 Agony in the Garden: Dürer's "Crisis of the Image"
—Donald A. McColl
11 Albrecht Dürer between Agnes Frey and Willibald Pirckheimer
—Corine Schleif
12 Impossible Distance: Past and Present in the Study of Dürer and Grünewald
—Keith Moxey

Short Bibliography
List of Contributors

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)