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Albrecht Durer's quotes about his parents, dances, lameness, celestial and beautiful

Self-portraits of the German Renaissance
The Renaissance is the period that began around the 14th century and ended at the late 16th century, traditionally associated primarily with the Italian region. The ideas and images of the Renaissance largely determined the aesthetic ideals of modern man, his sense of harmony, measure and beauty. Read more
genius, where he depicted himself as a glamorous handsome man with long red curls dressed in gorgeous clothes, made people suspect the artist to be self-admired and peacocky, selfish and sublime. Though, when we read his diaries and letters we discover completely different Durer: a loving son and a good Christian, melancholic and thoughtful philosopher but under no circumstances a self-admired narcissus.
Albrecht Durer's quotes about his parents, dances, lameness, celestial and beautiful
  • Portrait of Barbara Durer, nee Helfer, Mother of the artist,
  • Portrait of Albrecht Durer senior, Father of the artist
My God fearing mother born eighteen children and brought them up, she was often ill, suffered from poverty and mockery, for the most part, she experienced a lot of strokes of misfortune but never was hardened in her heart and revengeful.

Albrecht Durer Senior (father of the artist -editor's note) suffered much and toiled painfully all his life, for he had no resources other than the proceeds of his trade to support himself and his family. So, he had a little. He experienced a lot of grief, battles and troubles. Those many people who knew him, spoke highly of him. He lived honestly, like a good Christian, he was an enduring and kind person, benevolent to everybody and thankful to God. He was far from society and worldly pleasures, he was also a short spoken and God-fearing person.

When I learnt to read and write my father took me from school and began training a goldsmith trade. When I have learnt to work skillfully, I had more desire to painting than to the goldsmith trade. I told my father about this, and he was angry with me, because he begrudged the time blown off.

In two years after my father’s death I took my mother to my house as she had nothing any more. At the time she lived with me, one Tuesday morning in 1513, she suddenly got terminal sickness and spent next year in the bed. In a year she had got the sickness on Tuesday, May 17, 1514, two hours before midnight she departed as a Christian after the Blessed Sacrament, and I prayed for her. God the Father Almighty, be thou merciful to her!

Her (Durer's mother — editor’s note) main occupation was to go to the Church and she always rebuked for my doing ill… She was afraid of death and died suffering. I watched the death delivered two blows to her heart and her lips suddenly distorted with the death pain.
Our knowledge is slender, darkness and ignorance has taken roots in us to such an extent that the truth has to be searched by touch. Good and evil exist for a man could choose, but the choice depends on both the spiritual values and the working of the mind.

He that would be a painter must have a natural turn thereto. Love and delight therein are better of the Art of Painting than compulsion.

Desire to know a lot and to reach the true value of things through it is embedded in us by nature.

Sane judgment abhors nothing so much as a picture perpetrated with no technical knowledge, although with plenty of care and diligence.

Everybody has to know how to depict the boorish and high-minded with a lot of average types in between. And if a man could express and correctly apply real power and skill, it could be also a great art. Talented and skillful painter could much more clearly demonstrate the true power and art in a peasant figure or small things than in his large artwork.
Albrecht Dürer. Farmers market
Farmers market
1519, 11.5×7.3 cm
I have a lot of good friends in Italy, who warn me not to eat and drink with their artists. Many of them are my enemies; they copy my artworks in the Church and everywhere where they could find them; then they scold me and say that I do not follow the classical tastes, therefore, my works are bad.

I made all the artists coerce into silence, those who told that I was good in the engravings, but was not able to cope with colors in painting.

I found a grey hair in my hair; it appeared because of my poverty and sufferings. It seems to me I was born for troubles.

When we are glorified, we throw back our heads and believe this. Though, maybe an evil seducer is behind us and mocking at us. So, do not trust when you are praised.

You have to be ashamed now, because you are old and still thinking that you are handsome and a flirt suits you like a game with a young pussy cat suits a large shaggy dog.
I decided to learn dancing so I visited a dancing school two times. But after I have paid a ducat to a trainer no one in the world could make me to go there again. I would have paid all the money I had earned and would not learn anything.

I do not like to start some artworks at a time to avoid distraction.

I ignore myself, incur losses and I will get your unappreciation instead.

I committed myself to paint an artwork for you with as great diligence as I could. Though, I did not do that because I was not insane, otherwise I would not have dared to finish it for all my life. The matter is that I am able to finish a face only for a half a year. There are more than a hundred of faces regardless clothes, landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
and other details.
Sight is the noblest sense of man. Each thing we see is more real, than the thing we hear. If we see it and hear it, we better adopt it. We willingly look at beautiful things as they bring us joy.

Only skillful artist can judge the beautiful more adequately than anyone else.

I saw a king’s palace with the fountain, labyrinth and zoo in the rear: I have never seen more amusing and pleasant things very much alike the heavens.

I saw things brought to the king from a far golden country: the sun made of gold of a fathom width, the similar moon of pure gold of the same size, and I observed also two rooms full of rare armament like different kind of arms, armor suits, weaponry, beautifully decorated shields, exotic robes, bedclothes and numerous marvelous things for different purposes; so, it was a miracle to see so many beautiful things. All that was very valuable and appraised at a hundred thousand guldens. I have never seen such gorgeous things in my life, which could make my heart so happy like those ones.

We should not undergo offence and danger because of our Christian faith.

O Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners, come to the defense of Thine people and deliver from devil in time, keep true Christian faith in our souls and hearts, gather Thine sheep dissipated all over the world with Thine holy voice, O Lord Jesus Christ Son of God… call Thine sheep again into one flock those who could be still found in the Rome Church together with Indians, Muscovite, Russians and Greeks separated by violent and greedy Popes radiating false holiness.
What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things. Though, I would like to mention that we have to aspire to create such things that have been considered beautiful during the human history.

For a year I could draw so many pictures of the second rank that no one could believe they were made by the same man. I could earn something for them, however, careful and diligent work needs a lot of time.

The major part of beauty is usefulness. So, we can say that the horrible things in a man are useless to him.

Deficit of something in each thing is a vice. Both deficit and excess make each thing ugly. One can find symmetry in similar things. Though, people have to be aware of what is useless, like limp or anything like it. Thus, limp and alike is ugly.

The more accurately an artist depicts the life, the better his painting is.

God often grants a man such mind and abilities to learn and create beauty that no one could find similar to such a man neither during his life, nor long before…
Self Portrait
Albrecht Durer
XVI century, 67×49 cm
Self Portrait
Albrecht Durer
XVI century, 67×49 cm
The central illustration: Albrecht Durer’s Self Portrait in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, detail.

Collected by Anna Vcherashnaia