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Observations placeholder

Dürer, Albrecht - Portraits - Maximilan I



Type of Spiritual Experience


J J O'Connor and E F Robertson – University of St Andrew, Biography

Dürer worked for Maximilian I, the Holy Roman emperor, from about 1512. Maximilian, however, had little in the way of wealth to pay for Dürer's work and he asked the councillors of Nürnberg to exempt Dürer from taxes as compensation. He then asked the councillors to pay Dürer a pension on his behalf, which certainly did not please them. From about 1515 the councillors tried to avoid paying this pension. Dürer met Maximilian personally for the first time in 1518 and, probably from one sitting in Augsburg, painted Maximilian's portrait. The following year Maximilian died and this was the final excuse for the councillors to refuse to make any further payment, saying that the new emperor Charles would have to agree to the pension.

Although Dürer was fairly well off by this time and the pension was not necessary for him, it was more a matter of prestige to have his pension restored. He set off for Antwerp on 15 July 1520 with his wife and their maid to visit the Emperor Charles V. Passing through Aachen, Dürer sketched the cathedral at Aachen.

Dürer had a second reason for this visit to the Netherlands, for he believed that Maximilian's daughter had a book by Jacopo de Barbari on applications of mathematics to art, and Dürer had long sought the truths which he believed this work contained. On meeting Maximilian's daughter he offered her the portrait of her father which he had painted, but was distressed to find that she did not want the portrait. She had already given the book by Jacopo de Barbari to another artist so Dürer's quest was in vain. He did persuade Charles V to restore his pension, however, which was formally agreed on 12 November 1520.

A description of the experience

The source of the experience

Dürer, Albrecht

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being left handed