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A creative and commercial genius

Some of Dürer’s best-known works are his woodcuts and engravings. He was an incredibly skilful craftsman who could both carve woodblocks for woodcut prints and create cut metal plates for engravings.  

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Woodcuts

He produced large numbers of woodcut prints including, in 1498, a series entitled ‘The Apocalypse’ which capitalised on the popular belief that the beginning of the 16th century would bring about the end of the world.  

Woodcut prints are made by carving the relief into a woodblock which is inked and printed using presses like those used for printing books. 

Dürer’s delicate, immaculately carved fine lines meant that his prints had complex compositions, intricate details, shading and shadows like no other.

Image: Albrecht Dürer, 'Flight in Egypt', 1511 © Sammlung Aachen, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum

Engraving

Engraving is an intaglio printing process, which means that, unlike the woodcut prints, the lines that are cut into the metal plate are the lines that are printed.  

Highlights include three, highly innovative prints known as the ‘Meisterstiche’ (master engravings) which he worked on between 1513 and 1514. These engravings on copper show ‘Knight, Death and the Devil’, Melancholia I’ and ‘Saint Jerome in His Study’. Their power lies in the way Dürer combines his German artistic heritage with the new Italian Renaissance ideas about Classical form, perspective, proportion and subject. 

Image: Albrecht Dürer, 'The Prodigal Son', about 1496 © V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Who was Albrecht Dürer? We take a first look at the artist.
During his lifetime Dürer witnessed some of European history's most significant milestones.
Location, location; find out why Nuremburg's character and position were so important for Dürer.
'Why has God given me such magnificent talent?'
Vivid dreams, status anxiety, egocentricity and limitless curiosity laid bare in his own words.
Even if you don't know the name, chances are you've seen a reproduction of one of his prints. What is it about his work that has made it last?
Online exhibition catalogue supplement
Further essays relating to the exhibition.
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The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer's Journeys
Travels of a Renaissance Artist
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