Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer could have been to the Reformation what Da Vinci and Michelangelo were to the Renaissance had his life not been cut short by an ill-advised journey to document a beached whale (he died trying to reach the whale; ironically, by the time he would have arrived, the whale would have been badly decomposed). He was the son of a distinguished master-goldsmith who had come from Hungary as a boy and settled in the flourishing city of Nuremberg. He showed early in life an astonishing gift for drawing and woodcut. He was incredibly curious, collecting and documenting thousands of items that would lay the foundation for future museums. Durer commonly drew his vision of the apocalyptic events, filled with grotesque figures, described in the book of Revelation. The public related closely with his work; many thought the end of the world, a climatic battle between Good and Evil, would happen during their lifetime. Durer, above all, was a great experimenter. He saw himself as a reformer of art in his home country of Germany. He experimented with shapes and proportions in nearly every work he produced. He also drew, with exacting detail, grasses, flowers and animal life. He was fascinated with nature. As time went on, his woodcuts and watercolors were not nearly as magical and symbolic as they were accurate and factual. When word came to Durer that a countryman of his, Martin Luther, was preaching that man was saved by "faith alone," Durer described Luther as "the Christian man who has helped me out of a great anxiety." Durer often referred to the writings of Erasmus for inspiration and guidance."