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Day 26 — National Blog Posting Month.

Face transformations by Albrecht Dürer 1528

Face transformations by Albrecht Dürer 1528

Albrecht Dürer was an artistic genius, but he also also was a geometry genius. He wrote Four Books on Measurement and Four Books on Human Proportion  in German vernacular. Dürer contributed to the expansion of German prose which Martin Luther had begun with his translation of the Bible.

Although he was Catholic, he was a great admirer of Luther and had wanted to paint his portrait. Dürer also had contact with reformers such as Zwingli and Erasmus. All of that is to say his religious themes had protestant sympathies. 

This was what the new technology [printing press] allowed everyone to do. The Vatican could ban books, as it banned Luther’s. But it could not stop Dürer, as a free thinker, reading the ancient sacred words in a new way, and making his pictures accordingly. — The Economist 

He was an artistic genius, but he was also a marketing genius. Dürer invented a new business model. It was based on production, self-promotional hype and final distribution. Because he owned his printing press, “it was easy to meet demand, however high he fanned it.” 

I said on “Artist as Entrepreneur” (see Day 24), the article is long, and sometimes rambling, but it offers many a historical anecdote…

St. Anthony At the City, Albrecht Dürer 1519

St. Anthony At the City, Albrecht Dürer 1519

Dürer concluded, as he wrote to a customer in 1509, that “I shall stick to my engraving, and if I had done so before I should today be a richer man by 1,000 florins.”

… His journey of 1520-21 was simply a business trip. The bales he was packing up as he left Antwerp had originally been stuffed with printed engravings and woodcuts, loose or bound as books, which he or his agents were selling, or sometimes giving away, all over the Netherlands.

Some of these—the “Nemesis”, with Great Fortune teetering on her globe, the “Melancholia 1”, with Melancholy surrounded by instruments of learning, and the “St Jerome”, with the saint sitting snugly in his cell with dog and lion—already qualified as bestsellers. Copies had been sent ahead to be sold before he arrived, building up excitement and publicity…


NOTE:  I guess you could say Albrecht Dürer was a vertically integrated company.