Albrecht Dürer: Art And Nature In The Northern Renaissance

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A) Art and Nature in the Northern Renaissance In his letter to Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) in 1522, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) stated that he had begun to see the simplicity of the “native countenance of nature [naturae nativam faciem]” as the ultimate objective of art. I agree with Dürer’s argumentation as the remarks indeed reflect his long-lasting fascination with the depiction of natural forms in art, especially later in his career after two journeys to Italy. Further, I maintain that Dürer’s representation of nature does not lie in mere imitation. Instead, he extracted ideal forms and imaginary figures from nature, as the subject matters in his studies of nature reappeared later in his more accomplished works on the theme of religion. By examining Dürer’s works of various genres, including still life, landscape, as well as religious paintings and preparatory studies, I argue that he had been pursuing the genuine form of nature throughout his later career with refined textures and details. More importantly, his pursuit of nature as the ultimate goal of art asserted the initiative of artist as creative individual at the time and helped to establish nature as a distinctive subject matter. Dürer’s lively depiction of nature and skilful mastery of…show more content…
For instance, one can clearly observe the further development of his previous studies of plants and animals in his engraving Adam and Eve produced in 1504. The rich palette of light and dark of the hare hiding behind the leg of Eve reminds the viewer of the refined texture of his earlier work Young Hare. The preparatory studies for this piece probably also include the a pair of lifelike drawings titled Muzzle of an Ox (c. 1502-1504), while the incredibly sensitive portrayal of the animal’s fur and skin was far more than what was needed for the background imagery in his
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