I am going to present you with two tellings of a man named Albrecht
D�rer, folks–though I know there are more. There is the Britannica
version (herein labeled BR)…and there is the more religious version
(herein labeled RL)…which takes on the form of a parable. I bring
you both…and in the interest of brevity…I paraphrase both.
BR–He was born in N�rnberg, Germany in 1471. He was the second son
of of a goldsmith, also named Albrecht D�rer. Albrecht D�rer the
younger became what was considered the greatest Renaissance painter,
engraver, and woodcut designer–among other accomplishments–of his
time. But he started off as a jeweler.
RL–Back in the fifteenth century the family with eighteen children.
They belonged to Albrecht D�rer the elder. In order to keep food on
the table…it is told that Albrecht D�rer Sr. had to work almost 18
hours a day in order to feed his family. Though financially unable,
two of Albrecht D�rer Sr.'s children wanted to pursue careers in art.
BR–Albrecht D�rer began his training in his father’s workshop. When
he was 15, his father sent him to study for four years under the
tutelage of a woodcut illustrator. From 1490 to 1495 he worked as a
journeyman traveling the continent.
RL–After much discussions in the dark of night…the two brothers
worked out a deal. They flipped a coin. The winner would attend the
academy and study art…the other brother would go down to the mines
and with his earnings support the other. After four years…the
brothers would switch roles…and the second would support the first
the same way he had been supported. Albrecht D�rer won the toss.
BR–In 1494, at 23 years of age, Albrecht D�rer returned to N�rnberg
and married Agnes Frey…daughter of a merchant. For the next 2 years
Albrecht produced a vast amount of work. He was on the road to
recognition. Most of his work was religious in theme. He was clearly
a devout man…deeply immersed in theology. His work represents his
RL–For four years the younger brother supported the elder whose work
at the academy was an almost immediate sensation. Albrecht D�rer was
outclassing his teachers. Upon his return, at a welcoming dinner to
celebrate his homecoming, Albrecht raised his glass as a toast and
said: “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn.
Now you can go to N�rnberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care
BR–Albrecht D�rer continued his world travels…spending much time
in Italy studying the masters. He traveled through the Netherlands. He
traveled through Belgium. Eventually, in 1521, Albrecht D�rer
returned home to N�rnberg where his health began to decline. He died
in 1528. For those of you asking…so?..so what?..and who was
Albrecht D�rer anyway…for those of you I turn you back to our
religious version… for there is hardly one of you out there not
familiar in one form or another of what is claimed–in that religious
version–to be his most famous work.
RL–Alas…Albert–the younger brother–could not take Albrecht up on
his offer. It was too late. He held up his hands. The bones in every
finger had been smashed at least once. He had arthritis. He could
barely hold up a glass for a toast…much less make delicate lines on
parchment with pen or brush. Over 500 years have passed since the
birth of Albrecht D�rer. And yet one of his works lives on. In order
to pay homage to Albert for all he had sacrificed, Albrecht drew his
brother’s hands with palms together and fingers stretched skyward. He
called his work “Hands,” but the entire world renamed his work as
"The Praying Hands."
How much is fact and how much is not does not really matter. The
truth of it is that it’s a great story. I have a graphic of the
drawing, and next to it I have a graphic of a gold hand in prayer…a
very popular charm and pendant which I would like to believe is in
tribute to Albrecht D�rer. For those of you who are new to this thing
called Tidbits…may I direct you to my home page at
www.tyler-adam.com where you will scroll down the table menu till you
get to the box that says Tidbits…and inside the box where it says
Tidbit Graphics…click on the link that says: Hands…where you will
see the graphic I mention above.
And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all next
week. Benjamin Mark
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