17 June, 2015
Albrecht Dürer’s “The praying hands” and “Young hare” are some of the most widely reproduced works in art history. But, would this great artist have liked his work to be engraved on chocolate bars or Christmas decorations? Probably not, as his paintings are featured in the most important art museums in the world. If you look close enough, some spots in the city of Nuremberg reveal traces of Albrecht Dürer.
The Artist in His Workshop
Albrecht Dürer was born on 21 May 1471 in Nuremberg and died on 6 April 1528. He is buried in Nuremberg’s Johannisfriedhof. His father, Albrecht Dürer the Elder, moved to this city from Hungary in 1455 and married the daughter of a goldsmith. Of his 19 children, only 3 males survived, all without issue.
His first self-portrait was painted in 1484 while training in his father’s goldsmithery. It is still preserved today. Since Albrecht Dürer intended to become a painter after training as a goldsmith, his father sent him to the workshop of the painter, Michael Wolgemut, between 1486 and 1490. There he learned painting, wood carving and metal engraving.
His training took him to Basel in 1492 and to Strasbourg in 1494, among other places, where he made a living by selling books. In 1494, Albrecht Dürer received a dowry of 200 florins after marrying Agnes Frey, the daughter of a Nuremberg goldsmith. This led Albrecht to open his first painting workshop. Thanks to his mother-in-law’s relatives, he was able to come into contact with the city's upper class.
A Medieval and Renaissance Man
Living in the early Renaissance led Albrecht Dürer to strive for perfection through the technological advances of the time. He was a multifaceted genius who, in addition to painting, also explored other genres such as drawing or art theory. Noteworthy are his studies of proportion, geometry and design. Here is a review of his legacy in the city of Nuremberg.
First, some of his works are exhibited at the German National Museum (Germanisches Nationalmuseum), one of the world’s most important research centres for Albrecht Dürer. This museum also features exhibits of German culture from pre-history to the 20th century, the most notable of its kind in the country. Their permanent exhibition includes works by German painters and sculptors, as well as sections on archaeology, weapons and armour, musical and scientific instruments, and even toys. This museum also features Dürer’s “Hercules kills the Stymphalian Birds”. However, if you would like to discover the painter in his everyday and creative life, nothing better than visiting his own house. Dürer lived and worked in the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus from 1509 until his death in 1528. After a multimedia performance you can follow the audio guide tour of this 4-storey house, narrated by “Agnes”, Dürer’s wife. The highlights of this visit are the interactive demonstrations of his recreated workshop, a print store on the 3rd floor, and a gallery with his originals and reproductions in the attic.
Some 150 metres down the street, a monument dedicated to the artist – the Albrecht Dürer Monument –stands in the Albrecht-Dürer-Platz. Interestingly, the Felsengänge lies beneath this monument. This is a 14th-century underground labyrinth with four levels that used to house a brewery and a wine cellar. It was used as an air-raid shelter during World War II. You can visit this maze by going to the beer store on Burgstrasse 19.
Dürer’s Everyday Life Revisited
A good way of getting to know Dürer’s life in Nuremberg is by visiting the Stadtmuseum Fembohaus. This museum, which gives a comprehensive overview of the city’s history, features the restored rooms of a 16th-century merchant’s house. For taverns and eateries, look no further than Goldenes Posthorn. After going through its heavy copper door, you will find yourself in a gastronomic paradise that has been feeding Nuremberg citizens since 1498. Here you will find great local sausages, as well as many other country dishes – hard to find in other places – in addition to vegetarian options. Another tavern from those times is Marientorzwinger. This is Nuremberg’s last zwinger – a tavern built within the walls of old military quarters. This is a picturesque establishment offering wholesome Franconian produce, in addition to simple vegetable dishes. You can choose between their unpretentious dining room and the luxurious terrace. To drink, nothing better than a Tucher beer from Fürth.
To stay the night, we recommend the Dürer-Hotel, a four-star establishment located in the historic centre, right next to the Imperial Castle. Its bedrooms and lounges are uniquely decorated, perfectly combining tradition and modernity – after Albrecht Dürer’s perfectionist spirit. Oh, and, their cuisine is spectacular, with breakfasts that include confectionery, cold meats and local cheeses. Their products are high quality and organically produced in the region.
Dürer is synonymous with Nuremberg. Come and discover the city of this emblematic Renaissance artist. Remember, you can visit any time of the year. However, if you do so in spring or summer, the weather will likely be better, and you’ll be able to enjoy the old city’s splendid terrace cafés. Check out our flights here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
17 June, 2015