24 September 2012 – 26 November 2013
Albrecht Dürer was one of the very first northern artists to respond to Italian Renaissance art. After learning all he could from imported prints and books he resolved to cross the Alps to study Italian art at first hand. Rather than travelling to Florence or Rome, however, Dürer stopped and stayed in Venice. On his arrival the Venetian artists received him with great honour but combined with some jealousy. The technical brilliance of his graphic work had made a big impact in Italy, yet his paintings were said to lack such qualities as the deep, rich colour for which Venetian art was renowned. Dürer was determined to ‘stop the mouths’ of his critics, as he wrote in a letter to his friend in Nuremberg, before returning to effect a revolution, a ‘renaissance’ in the arts back in Germany. Close links between Venice and Germany had been long established and this course will examine this direct cultural cross-fertilisation, focusing on works Dürer produced in Italy under the inspiration of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and others, together with the influence Dürer’s work had upon them. The relationship between Italian art and other German painters such as Cranach or sculptors such as Riemenschneider will also be covered. Exploring such connections and interconnections enables us to recognise and appreciate the international and multifaceted nature of Renaissance art.