The Easel

Archives: Philip Hoare

19th September 2023

Albrecht Dürer’s genius for self-promotion

A book on Dürer tells the tale of an altarpiece that he was commissioned to paint. It turned into a battle between a filthy rich patron and Dürer, “one of the most narcissistic artists that ever lived”. Part of what makes the story memorable is its context – dynamic Northern Europe, pressing its claims for artistic ascendancy over Italy. Further, Dürer and his buddies were pioneering the commercial art market. He was, says one writer, “the first truly international artist”.