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immobility, and we almost wonder how he lifted his hand and turned his eyes to paint it.
The literary contents of the volume are papers written by, or relative to, the artist. These are a short account of the Durer family and of Albert's own early youth,-a few letters, --some slight attempts at poetry,-a diary of his journey to, and in, the Netherlands—two dedications of his printed works--and an account of, and elegy upon, his death, by Pirkheimer. The volume is edited by Dr. Friedrich Campe, a Nuremberg gentleman, bearing more literary and municipal designations and dignities than we have patience to transcribe or even to read; and who thus announces the Relics of Albert Durer, in a something, which we know not whether to call a preface, an advertisement, or a dedication to the public:
“ I hope to offer to the admirers of our Albert Durer no unwelcome gift in this little book, through which they will learn to know Durer, painted by himself, better than through the Fancy-pictures (Phantasiegemälde) of modern times."
The first relic, entitled Eigene Familie-Nachrichten von Albrecht Dürer, or Private Family Notices, begins in the following quaint and pious style :
“, Albert Durer the younger, have put together out of my father's papers whence he was, how he came hither, and remained here, and ended blessedly. God be gracious to him and us! Amen."
The Durer family was, it seems, Hungarian, and their original seat a village named Eytas, near the little town of Jula, and some few more miles from Wardein—(we are not quite sure whether this means Great Wardein or Peterwardein), where, for generations, they followed the occupation of graziers. But the painter's grandfather, Antony Durer, sickening, in boyhood, of this rural pursuit, betook himself to Jula, and was apprenticed to a goldsmith. At Jula he married, settled, and bred up his eldest son Albert (Albert Durer the elder) to his own business, whilst a younger son became a priest at Wardein. Albert travelled through Germany and the Low Countries, improved himself in his art under “ the great artists," as our Albert terms the skilful Netherland goldsmiths, and finally reached Nuremberg in 1455. There he entered the service of old Jeronymus Haller, an eminent goldsmith, and, at the end of twelve years, his skill, honesty and industry were rewarded with the hand of his master's daughter, Barbara. By her he was the father of eleven sons and seven daughters; our Albert, born in the year 1471, being the second son and third child. The paper thus proceeds:
“ This Albert Durer the elder spent his life in great difficulties, and in hard and heavy work, and had nothing to live upon but what he earned with his own hand for bimself, his wife and children, and therefore bad he very little. He experienced manifold crosses, troubles and afflictions. He has also had good praise from all people who knew him; for he led an honest, Christian life, was a patient and soft-tempered man, peaceable towards every one; and he was very thankful to God. Moreover he wanted not much worldly pleasure, he was of few words, kept little company, and was a God-fearing man.'
The worthy goldsmith of course brought up his children carefully; and his son thus goes on :
“ He had especial pleasure in me, as he saw that I was diligent in learning : therefore my father let me go to school, and when I had learned reading and writing, he took me out of the school, and taught me goldsmith's craft. But now, when I could work neatly, my inclination led me more to painting than to goldsmith's craft, and that I set forth to my father; but he was not well content, for it repented him of the lost time that I had spent in learning to be a goldsınith; yet be gave way, and on St. Andrew's day, when 1486 years were reckoned from the birth of Christ, my father bound me to Michael Wohlgemuth for my apprenticeship, to serve him for three years. In that time God gave me industry, so that I learned well, but had much to suffer from biş men ; and when my servitude was ended, my father sent me out, and I remained abroad four years, till my father called me back; and as in tbe year 1490 I had gone eastwards away, so now,
when 1494 were reckoned, I came back after Whitsuntide ; and wben I was come bome, Hans Frey dealt with my father, and gave me to wife bis daughter, by name maid Agnes, and gave me with her 200 gulden."
Our monetary science is unequal to turning the lady's dower into pounds, shillings and pence; and with the announcement of his marriage we shall close this simple picture of the training of the greatest painter of his country. The first paper contains little more, except the religious death of his father, his filial care of, and reverence for, his widowed mother, and her death. We proceed therefore to supply, as far as other sources enable us so to do, the particulars of which the artist's own modest record leaves us ignorant.
The skill in goldsmith's work that Albert had acquired prior to his quitting the business, was considerable, and he had produced a representation of The Passion, in enchased silver, which delighted his father, and astonished all masters and judges of the craft in Nuremberg. During the four years of his wanderschaft (this term, which may be Englished his travels or travelship, is the technical designation for a period of wandering exercise of his trade required from every journeyman, and ordained in early times, probably, with a view to the acquisition of the improvements devised in various places,) during this wanderschaft, we say, Albert visited the best living painters of Germany and the
VOL. XI. NO, XXI.
Netherlands, and studied the works of their deceased predecessors. Upon his return to Nuremberg, he executed the test-specimen of his abilities, which was to procure for him the freedom of his Company and the rank of a Master-painter. This was a pen and ink drawing (a style in which he always excelled) of Orpheus under the hands of the enraged Bacchante. It excited universal admiration, especially for the management of the landscape-background; and is said to have been a main cause of Hans Frey's wish to bestow his daughter upon an artist so promising that he could hardly fail to prove a good match.
A marriage, concluded in the business-like way already described, offered little prospect of turning out happily; nor do we find our expectations deceived. The most un-lamblike Agnes, inflicted, rather than bestowed, on the much-enduring Durer, was, as has been insinuated, an avaricious shrew. Other painters, other geniuses, as well as philosophers, have suffered under this sorest of common place evils; and different men have adopted different ways of remedying or bearing the calamity. Socrates, by mere dint of philosophical equanimity, seems to have regarded Xantippe's modes of annoyance much like those of a fly, or at worst, of a gnat. The jovial Hans Holbein quietly transferred himself to England, and, with the exception of some few visits, requisite to preserve his rights as a citizen-master-painter of Basle, spent the last eighteen years of his life as a bachelor, or a widower bewitched, at the court of our Henry VIII., leaving his Xantippe to herself, and his luckless brats to stand the brunt of household tempest as they might. Albert Durer, soft-tempered and God-fearing like his father, had perhaps too tender a conscience thus, like Holbein, to shake off the bonds of a solemn engagement upon their becoming burthensome, and too much of the keen susceptibility of genius to acquire any portion of Socratic impassibility. He submitted to his fate, and in the end sank under it.
But if Albert Durer denied himself irregular modes of emancipation from fireside annoyance, it was not for want of knowing and appreciating the felicity that such relief, when fairly attainable, was calculated to afford. In the year 1506 he was called to Venice by an affair which shows how high his reputation then stood in Italy. Marc Antonio, a Bolognese engraver, resident at Venice, had copied some woodcuts of Albert Durer, and in order to pass them off as originals, had likewise copied the German artist's monogram, as an artificial combination of initials, by way of signature, was termed. Durer hastened to Venice, to seek redress from the Venetian government; and so far he obtained it, that Marc Antonio was prohibited from forging his monogram. Upon occasion of this short excursion, his wife was left at home; and the letters he addressed to his friend Pirkheimer from Venice, published in our Taschenbuch, show the zest with which he enjoyed his liberty; the joviality of his tone frequently indeed according but ill with the refinement of modern times. Part of the most decorous of these missives we shall, however, translate as nearly as we can render the quaint and often obsolete language.
“ First of all my willing service, dear sir; and if it go well with you, I am as heartily glad thereof as though the case were mine own.”—(Some excuses for not writing sooner, which we omit, conclude thus :) “ Therefore I humbly pray you to forgive me, for I have no friend on earth but you. Also I give it no belief that you are angry with me, since I hold you no otherwise than a father. I wish you were here at Venice; there are so many pleasant companions amongst the Italians, who, the longer the more, consort with me, so that it touches one's heart; for reasonable, learned, good lute players, fifers, good judges of painting, and nobleminded right virtuous persons, do me great honour and friendship. On the other hand, there are also here the falsest, most lying, thievish knaves, as I believe none such exist on the face of the earth; and be who should not know it, would think them the pleasantest people in the world. I myself cannot choose but laugh at them when they talk with me; they know that one knows such wickedness of them, but they care nothing about the matter. I have many good friends amongst the Italians, who warn me not to eat and drink with their painters; and indeed many of these are my enemies, and copy my things in the churches and wherever they can get at them, and then revile them, and say tbey are not after the antique fashion, and therefore not good ; but Sambelliny” (Giovanni Bellini, Titian's master, called Zan Belin in the Venetian dialect)," he bas praised me very highly before many gentlemen; he would fain have something of mine, and came to me himself, and prayed me to do him something, and he would pay me well for it: and all people tell me he is so worthy a man that I equally value him. He is very old, and is still the best at painting. * Given at Venice, at dine o'clock at night, on the Saturday after Candlemas, in the year 1506." The reader will recollect that the year then began at Lady day.
In another letter the announcement of his approaching return home is followed by these exclamations. “Oh how I shall shiver for the sun! Here, I am
Here, I am a Lord; at home, a mere Nobody!” We have no room for more specimens of our painter's naïf epistolary style; and must pass over various letters to Pirkheimer or other correspondents, whether of friendship or of business, even though much in the latter move our inward man; e. g. the writer's earnest argument against the low prices offered him for his pictures, founded upon his large expenditure of money in the purchase of ultramarine, and of time in minutely and highly finishing them, and the petitions, extorted doubtless
by his wife, for something extra, in the nature of something to drink, as a compliment to that insatiate and arbitrary dame.
After the settlement of his Venetian affairs, Albert Durer paid a short visit to Bologna to study perspective, and then returned to Nuremberg. Thence he despatched a letter and a portrait of himself to Raphael, who appears to have received both as marks of esteem from one whom he himself esteemed, and repaid them in kind, by a letter and some drawings. The German artist was now in truth at the summit of his fame. His native city gloried in his reputation, and testified her respect by electing him a member of her great municipal council;-a dignity not to be confounded with the civic honours of a London alderman, for be it remembered that every Free Imperial City, (and such was Nuremberg,) though a member of the federal German empire, constituted a self-governed republic; the councils of those cities being their legislative, and the bürgermeister, or mayor, their executive authority.—The most distinguished literati throughout Europe sought Durer's acquaintance; Kings and Princes sat to, and honoured him, and the Emperor Maximilian named him his Court Painter, with a yearly salary of one hundred gulden,* besides paying separately for every picture he should bespeak or purchase. An anecdote is related, illustrative of Maximilian's value for the favourite artist, closely resembling, in kind at least, one preserved of Henry VIII. and Holbein.
As Albert Durer was sketching upon a wall in presence of the Emperor and his court, the ladder upon which he stood slipped, and the monarch bade the nobleman who was nearest the painter hold it. The nobleman, drawing back, beckoned a servant to perform in bis stead an office which he judged derogatory to his rank. Maximilian rebuked him; and when the courtier urged in his justification the necessity of maintaining his dignity, indignantly rejoined, “ Albert's excellence in his art raises him far above a nobleman; for I can transform a peasant into a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, but not a nobleman into an artist.”
To return to the Taschenbuch. The letters are followed by the painter's poetical attempts, as they are properly designated. The sister arts, we believe, like mere mortal sisters, chuse severally to engross the affections of their respective votaries, thinking it foul scorn to accept a divided allegiance. At least, if examples there be of individuals acquiring supreme excellence in two unconnected arts, assuredly Albert Durer was not one of these
If we cannot quite tell how much this came to in sterling money, we know that it was half of the sum total of his wife's marriage portion; a sufficient measure of rela. tive value,