Albrecht Durer

Topics: Printmaking, Albrecht Dürer, Woodcut Pages: 6 (1933 words) Published: October 9, 2010
It is always very difficult to assess, construe and to write critically about a person whose works of art will never be forgotten and whose name had been written to the history of art as genius. The most we could do is to take a delight in looking at these works and moreover, try to understand what the author of these masterpieces wanted to translate to the world. Albrecht Dürer is one of the greatest and most influential Renaissance artists. His creation was influenced by his father who taught him craft of goldsmith; authorities like M.Wolgemut, H. Pleydenwurff and M.Schongauer; journeys to Italy and Netherlands where he met artists like Pollaiuolo and Mantegna, Barbari and Bellini, Lorenzo di Credi and Raphael, thinkers like Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci. Albrecht Dürer as a person was good, perfectionist, with a sense of humour and like E.Panofsky described: “Of rather delicate health, handsome and more than a little vain of his good looks, he was the most loyal of citizens, the most faithful of Christians, the most conscientious of craftsmen and the best of friends”[1].

Albrecht Dürer was unrivalled in making woodcuts and engravings (he made ninety-five copperplate engravings and more than two hundreds woodcuts). His technique of making it was exceptional, like J. B. Shaw said “Dürer’s method of painting does not sound like the method of a painter of the Renaissance. It is rather the method of an illuminator, painting a miniature on a very large scale”[2]. First of all, if we want to compare the work of A. Dürer in the woodcuts and engravings, we need to discuss about different processes of making them. J. B. Shaw explained how engraving is made: “The method, is what called an intaglio method – that is, one in which the design is printed from lines that are incised in the surface of the plate. In line-engraving, these lines are incised directly onto the copperplate by the artist, using a burin which he pushes in front of the hand, turning the plate this way and that as the line curves. The plate is then inked, and wiped, so that the ink remains only in the incised lines; then passed through a press with sheet of damp paper on top of it”[3], an example is Coat of Arms with a Skull (Figure 1). The method of making woodcuts was invented earlier by thirty or forty years than method of making engravings. “But the woodcut was different matter. This is what is called relief process – the design is printed from lines left standing in relief on the surface of the woodblock, the surrounding area having been cut. The artist in Dürer’s time, drew a pen on the prepared surface of the block using the hard end of the wood and then with a sharp knife all the surface in between the lines he had drawn would be cut away”[4] – J.B. Shaw explained how woodcut is made; an example is Samson and the Lion (Figure 2). As we could see, to make an engraver is more difficult, E. Panofsky said more about that: “woodcuts were, on the whole, more ‘popular’ in character than engravings, not only because they were less laborious to produce and therefore cheaper to acquire, but for internal reasons as well. Their technique called for summary statement of essentials rather than for the particularizing elaboration of details”[5]. The woodcut and engraving as processes developed separately, like E. Panofsky said: “The development of woodcut during fifteenth century had tended from the abstract toward the concrete; the development of engraving tended from the concrete toward the abstract. Where the woodcutters had tried to enrich linear rigidity by three-dimensional space and volume, the engravers tried to replace diffused softness by a system of sharply defined ‘tailles’”[6]. On the one hand, woodcuts and engravings are similar, as both of them are design from incised lines and curves, but on the other hand, they are different, as that incised lines from which images are created differ....
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