I opened my AP European History class today with a visual of the greatest German Renaissance painter of the early 16th century, Albrecht Durer. He has been described by many as one of the greatest of great humanist. According to the reading I handed students, Durer transcended the period by ushering in the spirit of the “self.” He represents the achievements of all but does not represent all people. When reflecting on the notion of humanism, many forget that this term denotes man’s attempt to showcase the beauty and greatness of God. The term emerged in full fruition roughly around the period of the mid to high Renaissance. Man had triumphed through various epochs and challenges ad thus he was ready to show off his “self” talents. In doing so, much of man’s bragging — which centered on the “self” allowed him to give thanks to God for the blessings of his talents. Thus, humanism only became a negative term during the advent of the late 19th and 20th century. It was at this point in which man took his talents to constructing weapons for the destruction of others. Conservatives espouse this term as a negative, yet, it does offer more positive to the intellectual gravitas of classical studies, a field that has traditionally endorsed faith — not rejected it.
Below is Durer showing his Christ-like appeal which he does in many of his self-portraits in which he captures his sense of “self”. Note the image below:
While studying his provocative Christ-like position, students could not help but note how Maddy Copello resembles Durer; in many ways, it is almost like she is a descendent from the German’s bloodline.
Above: During our discussion, Maddy poses for the class beside the image of Durer.