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His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Renaissance in Northern Europe ever since.
 
== Wanderjahre and marriage (1490-4) ==
After completing his term of apprenticeship, Dürer followed the common German custom of taking ''Wanderjahre'' — in effect [[gap year]]s — in which the apprentice learned skills from artists in other areas; Dürer was to spend about four years away. He left in 1490, possibly to work under [[Martin Schongauer]], a leading engraver of Northern Europe, but who died shortly before Dürer's arrival at [[Colmar]] in 1492. It is unclear where Dürer travelled in the intervening period, though it is likely that he went to [[Frankfurt]] and the [[Netherlands]]. In Colmar, Dürer was welcomed by Schongauer's brothers, the goldsmiths Caspar and Paul and the painter Ludwig. In 1493 Dürer went to Strassbourg, where he would have experienced the scultpure of [[Nikolaus Gerhaert]]. Dürer's first painted self-portrait (now in the [[Louvre]]) was painted at this time, probably to be sent back to his fiancé in Nuremberg.<ref name="Bartrum"/>
 
In early 1492 Dürer travelled to [[Basel]] to stay with another brother of Martin Schongauer, the goldsmith Georg. Here he produced a woodcut of [[St Jerome]] as a frontispiece for Nicholaus Kessler's 'Epistolare beati Hieronymi'. Panofsky argues that this print combined the '[[Ulm]]ian style' of Koberger's 'Lives of the Saints' (1488) and that of Wolgemut's workshop.<ref>Panofsky:21</ref>
Very soon after his return to Nuremberg, on [[July 7]], [[1494]], at the age of 23, Dürer was married to Agnes Frey († 1539) following an arrangement made during his absence. Agnes was the daughter of a prominent brass worker (and amateur harpist) in the city. However, no children resulted from the marriage. It is probable that Dürer's engraved copies after [[Andrea Mantegna|Mantegna]] were made at this time, before his trip to Italy.
 
== First journey to Italy (1494-5) ==
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