German Renaissance 1430 – 1580

Term given to the art, and in particular the architecture, created in the region along the River Weser and adjacent areas in Germany between c 1520 and c 1620 Money earned by noblemen fighting as mercenaries in foreign wars—especially in the Netherlands—and an expansion in agricultural trade were two of the main contributory factors to the spate of new building that occurred in the region during this period The most important architectural undertakings were castles, as well as town halls and town houses, although churches were also built in this style; some of these buildings were decorated with reliefs, statues or ornamental stonework One of the most important architects active in the earliest phase of the Weser Renaissance was Jörg Unkair (d 1552), who probably came from Württemberg He was followed by Cord Tönnis and Hermann Wulff, both from the Weser region; they had a decisive influence on local architectural style between c 1550 and c 1575

The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which developed from the Italian Renaissance Many areas of the arts and sciences were influenced, notably by the spread of Renaissance humanism to the various German states and principalities There were many advances made in the fields of architecture, the arts, and the sciences Germany produced two developments that were to dominate the 16th century all over Europe: printing and the Protestant Reformation

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One of the most important German humanists was Konrad Celtis (1459–1508) Celtis studied at Cologne and Heidelberg, and later travelled throughout Italy collecting Latin and Greek manuscripts Heavily influenced by Tacitus, he used the Germania to introduce German history and geography Eventually he devoted his time to poetry, in which he praised Germany in Latin Another important figure was Johann Reuchlin (1455–1522) who studied in various places in Italy and later taught Greek He studied the Hebrew language, aiming to purify Christianity, but encountering resistance from the church

The most significant German Renaissance artist is Albrecht Dürer especially known for his printmaking in woodcut and engraving, which spread all over Europe, drawings, and painted portraits Important architecture of this period includes the Landshut Residence, Heidelberg Castle and the Town Hall in Augsburg

The concept of the Northern Renaissance or German Renaissance is somewhat confused by the continuation of the use of elaborate Gothic ornament until well into the 16th century, even in works that are undoubtedly Renaissance in their treatment of the human figure and other respects Classical ornament had little historical resonance in much of Germany, but in other respects Germany was very quick to follow developments, especially in adopting printing with movable type, a German invention that remained almost a German monopoly for some decades, and was first brought to most of Europe, including France and Italy, by Germans

Printmaking by woodcut and engraving (thought of as a German invention yet originated in China) was already more developed in Germany and the Low Countries than anywhere else, and the Germans took the lead in developing book illustrations, typically of a relatively low artistic standard, but seen all over Europe, with the woodblocks often being lent to printers of editions in other cities or languages The greatest artist of the German Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer, began his career as an apprentice to a leading workshop in Nuremberg, that of Michael Wolgemut, who had largely abandoned his painting to exploit the new medium Dürer worked on the most extravagantly illustrated book of the period, the Nuremberg Chronicle, published by his godfather Anton Koberger, Europe’s largest printer-publisher at the time