Albrecht Durer (AL brekt DUHR er) learned the skills of metalworking from his father, who was a goldsmith. Durer travel widely in Europe, and there he studied painting, made prints and created illustrations for books. 

Since there were no cameras in the fifteenth century or advance methods of printing as there is nowadays, woodcuts helped spread ideas and they became a very popular pictorial medium since many prints could be made from one woodcut. Durer refined the woodcut to a degree unknown before and it became the highest form of graphic art in those times.

Durer's earliest known work is a self-portrait, which he painted at the age of thirteen. This great northern Renaissance artist also made engravings (which is another printmaking device) and produced many fine paintings, drawing and treatises on geometry and military fortifications before he died in 1528.

RHINOCEROS - Why is this rhinoceros so amazing? You will notice that this rhinoceros is different from the real one and it's because Durer made this woodcut even though he had never seen a rhinoceros!

Durer learned about this strange beast when a sultan in India sent one to the King of Portugal as a gift. A German printer was visiting Portugal
and sent a drawing to Durer along with this description: "…color of a speckled turtle, almost entirely covered by a thick shell…in size like the elephant, but lower on it's legs, and almost invulnerable. It has a sharp strong horn on its nose, which it starts to sharpen whenever it is near stones…runs with its head down between it's front legs…".

Using this description, Durer made his rhinoceros encased in hard speckled plates. The overlapping shapes on the rhino's head are kind of like cabbage leaves. On its back and legs are more plates with repeated lines and patterns.

To make his rhino, Durer drew lines on a flat block of wood. Then he used sharp tools and cut the wood away on either side of the drawn lines so that they were left in relief. When he finished carving, Durer rolled printing ink on the raised lines and pressed the block onto a piece of paper. Since the original print was 8-1/2" x 11-3/4", we marvel at the tiny curves and angles that demonstrate his great cutting skill.
  

 

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