The method of preparing these gores was originally found empirically, but since the days of Albert Darer it has also engaged the minds of many mathematicians, foremost among whom was Professor A.
Albrecht Darer the elder was a goldsmith by trade, and settled soon after the middle of the 15th century in Nuremberg.
The elder Darer was an esteemed craftsman and pious citizen, sometimes, as was natural, straitened in means by the pressure of his numerous progeny.
But after travelling two years in various parts of Germany, where we are unable to follow him, the young Darer arrived at Colmar in 1492, only to find that Schongauer had died the previous year.
But the prevailing opinion is against this conjecture, and sees in these designs the work not of a strenuous student and searcher such as Darer was, but of a riper and more facile hand working in a spirit of settled routine.
The Venetian painter etcher, Jacopo de Barbari, whom Darer had already, it would seem, met in Venice in 1494-1495, and by the example of whose engravings he had already been much influenced, came to settle for a while in Nuremberg in 1500.
According to Vasari, Marcantonio, in copying Diirer's series of the Little Passion on wood, had imitated the original monogram, and Darer, indignant at this fraud, set out for Italy in order to protect his rights, and having lodged a complaint against Marcantonio before the signory of Venice, carried his point so far that Marcantonio was forbidden in future to add the monogram of Darer to copies taken after his works.
Darer himself, a number of whose familiar letters written from Venice to his friend Pirkheimer at Nuremberg are preserved, makes no mention of anything of the kind.
The picture painted by Darer on this commission was the "Adoration of the Virgin," better known as the "Feast of Rose Garlands"; it was subsequently acquired by the emperor Rudolf II., and carried as a thing beyond price upon men's shoulders to Vienna; it now exists in a greatly injured state in the monastery of Strahow at Prague.
Even in its present ruined state, it is apparent that in spite of the masterly treatment of particular passages, such as the robe of the pope, Darer still lacked a true sense of harmony and tone-relations, and that the effect of his work must have been restless and garish beside that of a master like the aged Bellini.
That veteran showed the German visitor the most generous courtesy, and Darer still speaks of him as the best in painting ("der pest im gemell") in spite of his advanced years.
A similar festal intention in design and colouring, with similar mastery in passages and even less sense of harmonious relations in the whole, is apparent in a second important picture painted by Darer at Venice, "The Virgin and Child with the Goldfinch," formerly in the collection of Lord Lothian and now at Berlin.
From Venice Darer kept up a continuous correspondence, which has been published, with his bosom friend Pirkheimer at Nuremberg.
From the spring of 1507 until the summer of 1520, Darer was again a settled resident in his native town.
But among its native surroundings the career of Darer stands out with an aspect of ideal elevation and decorum which is its own.
The name of Agnes Darer was for centuries used to point a moral, and among the unworthy wives of great men the wife of Darer became almost as notorious as the wife of Socrates.
We have evidence that after her husband's death Agnes Darer behaved with generosity to his brothers.
The picture, painted for the elector Frederick of Saxony, is now in the Imperial Gallery at Vienna; the overcrowded canvas (into which Darer has again introduced his own portrait as a spectator alongside of the elector) is full of striking and animated detail, but fails to make any great impression on the whole, and does not do justice to the improved sense of breadth and balance in design, of clearness and dignity in composition, which the master had undoubtedly brought back with him from his second visit to Italy.
In the meantime Darer had added a few to the number of his line-engravings and had completed the two woodcut series of the Great Passion, begun about 1498-1499, and the Life of the Virgin.
Besides such fine single woodcuts as the "Mass of St Gregory," the "St Christopher," the "St Jerome," and two Holy Families of 1511, Darer published in the same year the most numerous and popularly conceived of all his woodcut series, that known from the dimensions of its thirty-seven subjects as the "Little Passion" on wood; and in the next year, 1512, a set of fifteen small copper-engravings on the same theme, the "Little Passion" on copper.
In thus repeating over and over on wood and copper nearly the same incidents of the Passion, or again in rehandling them in yet another medium, as in the highly finished series of drawings known as the "Green Passion" in the Albertina at Vienna, Darer shows an inexhaustible variety of dramatic and graphic invention, and is never betrayed into repeating an identical action or motive.
The face of the rider seems to recall that of the statue of Bartolommeo Colleoni at Venice; for the armour Darer had recourse to an old drawing of his own, signed and dated in 1498.
Darer (Nuremberg, 1827); again, edited by Thausing, in the Quellenschriften far Kunstgeschichte und Kunsttechnik (Vienna, 1872), but most completely in Lange and Fuhse's Diirers schriftlicher Nachlass (Halle, 1893); W.
Darer (London, 1889) contains extensive transcripts from the MSS.
Thausing, Darer, Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Kunst (Leipzig, 1876, 2nd ed., 1884), English translation (from the 1st ed.
Darer et ses dessins (Paris, 1882); F.
Darer in Nachbildungen (5 vols.
Darer, a Study of his Life and Works (London, 1897); Direr Society's Publications (lo vols., 1898-1907), edited by C. Dodgson and S.
Knackfuss, Darer (Bielefeld and Leipzig, 6th ed., 1899), English translation, 190o; B.
Zucker, Albrecht Darer (Halle, 1899-1900); L.
Darer und Friedrich II.
Der junge Darer (Leipzig, 1906); V.
Darer (Klassiker der Kunst, iv.), (2nd ed., Stuttgart, 1906).
Apart from books, a large and important amount of the literature on Darer is contained in articles scattered through the leading art periodicals of Germany, such as the Jahrbacher of the Berlin and Vienna museums, Repertorium far Kunstwissenschaft, Zeitschrift far bildende Kunst, &c. A comprehensive survey of this literature is afforded by Prof. H.
Singer's Versuch einer Darer-Bibliographie (Strassburg, 1903); articles published more recently will be found completely enumerated in A.
The cities of Strassburg, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Basel, became centres of learned coteries, which gathered round scholars like Wimpheling, Brant, Peutinger, Schedel, and Pirckheimer, artists like Darer and Holbein, printers of the eminence of Froben.
The note of Renaissance work in Germany was still Gothic. This we feel in the penetrative earnestness of Darer, in the homeliness of Hans Sachs, in the grotesque humour of Eulenspiegel and the Narrenschiff, the sombre pregnancy of the Faust legend, the almost stolid mastery of Holbein.
' Another painting of the same subject in the Doria Palace in Rome (usually attributed to Darer) is given to Schongauer by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Flemish Painters (London, 1872), p. 359; but the execution is not equal to Schongauer's wonderful touch.