(b Nuremberg, 21 May 1471; d Nuremberg, 6 Apr. 1528). German printmaker, painter, draughtsman, and writer, the greatest figure of Renaissance art in northern Europe. He was the son of a goldsmith, Albrecht Dürer the Elder, who trained him in his profession. Both his grandfathers had also been goldsmiths, but from an early age Dürer had intellectual ambitions that reached far beyond the confines of the medieval craftsman's workshop. His godfather was Anton Koberger, Nuremberg's leading publisher, whose books were sent all over Europe, and his best friend from childhood was Willibald Pirckheimer, a lawyer and classical scholar who had the best private library in Germany. In 1486, aged 15, Dürer left his father's workshop to study with Michael Wolgemut, the leading local painter. By this time he had already shown remarkable talent as a draughtsman, as is seen in his exquisite silverpoint self-portrait dated 1484 (Albertina, Vienna). (This is the earliest of several memorable self-portraits by Dürer; he was the first artist to produce a series of them at various stages of his life rather than one or two isolated examples, and they show his lofty conception of the artist's profession as well as his pride in his appearance—in addition to drawings there are three highly finished paintings in which he presents himself as a beautifully dressed and immaculately groomed gentleman, or even as a Christlike figure, rather than as a humble craftsman.) Wolgemut was a prolific book illustrator as well as a painter and Dürer must have learned the technique of woodcut from him. After completing his apprenticeship he spent the years 1490–4 travelling and gaining experience of the world.