Dürer was born in Nuremberg, Germany, on 21 May 1471.
He is the most important of all German Renaissance artists, recognised and admired worldwide for his paintings, engravings and articles on art theory, writings that influenced 16th-century artists in both Germany and the Low Countries.
His artistic quality, the number of works he produced, and the influence he exerted on his contemporaries are of great importance for the history of art.
His interest in geometry and mathematical proportions, his profound sense of history, his observations of nature and his awareness of his own creative potential demonstrate the Renaissance spirit of constant intellectual curiosity.
He was the son of a Hungarian goldsmith who emigrated to Nuremberg in 1455, where he settled and married in 1467.
His family background and the cultural and artistic environment of Nuremberg justify his early artistic vocation.
During 1493 he lived in Strasbourg and the following year, after returning to Nuremberg, he married Agnes Frey and two months after their marriage travelled to Venice for the first time, a journey that was one of the most important events in his career.
Along the way, while crossing the Alps, he painted some of his famous watercolour landscapes, a true discovery of nature by the Northern Renaissance, and in Venice he came into contact with Giovani Bellini.
On his return he opened his own workshop in his native city.
He returned to Italy in 1505, where he remained until 1507, during which time he visited Venice and possibly Rome, by which time he was already recognised as a famous artist.
One of his most famous and important works, The Virgin of the Rosary, dates from this period.
By this time he had already painted several self-portraits.
In 1498 he painted one of them, which is housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Also from these years is another of his works, Christ among the Doctors, which is in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, painted, according to the artist himself, in five days in Rome.
Another of his great works is the Heller Altar, whose iconography is related to Saint Augustine’s The City of God.
1507 is another of his two finest paintings, Adam and Eve, also in the Museo del Prado.
The culmination of Dürer’s engraved work is his so-called three master prints, The Knight, Death and the Devil of 1513, one of the finest images of the Christian knight, Saint Jerome of 1514, the best representation of the Christian intellectual at that time, and Melancholy I, one of the most famous images in history, in which Dürer contributes his idea of the artist as a melancholic figure absorbed in his thoughts.
Between 1520 and 1521 he made a trip to the Low Countries.
In his later years he focused on his religious preoccupations, evident in his interest in Luther’s ideas, his relationship with Erasmus of Rotterdam, of whom he painted a famous portrait in 1526, and in the same year he produced another of his masterpieces, the paintings of The Four Apostles.
He was undoubtedly the most important European artist of his time outside Italy, comparable to Leonardo da Vinci in terms of his painting, studies and theory.
He died in Nuremberg on 6 April 1528.