Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), one of the greatest of all German artists, was a painter, printmaker, draftsman, and theoretician. He is largely credited with bringing the Italian Renaissance to northern Europe, and he revolutionized printmaking, elevating it to an independent art form.
Born in Nuremberg, Dürer apprenticed first with his father, a goldsmith, and then with Michael Wolgemut, the leading painter and woodcut artist in the city. He worked in Basel and Strasbourg as a journeyman before visiting Venice in 1494–1495, where he became one of the first northern European artists to study the Italian Renaissance in situ. The exceptional drawing An Oriental Ruler Seated on His Throne is one result of this youthful journey.
Dürer settled in Nuremberg for the next decade, a period of explosive productivity. He executed several commissions for paintings and began to print and publish his own woodcuts and engravings. Circulated widely, these prints established his international reputation. He also rigorously studied intellectual concepts central to the Renaissance: perspective, absolute beauty, proportion, and harmony. By the time of his second trip to Italy, 1505–1507, he was the most celebrated German artist of the period. He visited Venice, Florence, and Rome, studying the Italian masters and producing important paintings of his own.