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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.
== Final years in Nuremberg (1521-28) ==
[[किपा:AlbrechtDürer01.jpg|thumb|left|Title page of ''Vier Bücher von menschlicher Proportion'' showing the monogram signature of Albrecht Dürer]]
On his return to Nuremberg, Dürer worked on a number of grand projects with religious themes, including a [[Crucifixion]] scene and a [[Sacra conversazione|Sacra Conversazione]], though neither was completed.<ref>Panofsky:223</ref> This may have been in part to his declining health, but perhaps also because of the time he gave to the preparation of his theoretical works on [[geometry]] and [[linear perspective|perspective]], the [[body proportions|proportions]] of men and horses, and [[fortification]].
However, one consequence of this shift in emphasis was that during the last years of his life, Dürer produced comparatively little as an artist. In painting, there was only a portrait of [[commons:Image:Albrecht Dürer 035.jpg|Hieronymus Holtzschuher]], a [[commons:Image:Albrecht Dürer 061.jpg|''Madonna and Child'' (1526)]], [[commons:Image:Albrecht dürer salvator mundi.JPG|''Salvator Mundi '' (1526)]], and two panels showing [[John the Apostle|St. John]] with [[St. Peter]] in [[commons:Image:Albrecht Dürer 026.jpg|front]] and [[Paul of Tarsus|St. Paul]] with [[Mark the Evangelist|St. Mark]] in the [[commons:Image:Albrecht Dürer 027.jpg|background]]. This last great work, the Four Apostles, was given by Dürer to the City of Nuremberg—although he was given 100 guilders in return.<ref name="Panofsky"/> An inscription relates the figures to the [[four humours]].<ref>Panofsky:235</ref>
As for engravings, Dürer's work was restricted to portraits and illustrations for his treatise. The portraits include Cardinal-Elector [[Albert of Mainz]]; [[Frederick the Wise]], elector of Saxony; the [[Humanism|humanist]] scholar [[Willibald Pirckheimer]]; [[Philipp Melanchthon]], and [[Desiderius Erasmus|Erasmus of Rotterdam]]. For those of [[Albert of Mainz|the Cardinal]], Melanchthon, and Dürer's final major work, a drawn portrait of the Nuremberg patrician Ulrich Starck, Dürer depicted the sitters in profile, perhaps reflecting a more mathematical approach.
Despite complaining of his lack of a formal [[classics|classical education]] Dürer was greatly interested in intellectual matters and learned much from his boyhood friend [[Willibald Pirckheimer]], whom he no doubt consulted on the content of many of his images. He also derived great satisfaction from his friendships and correspondence with Erasmus and other scholars. Dürer succeeded in producing two books during his lifetime. "The Four Books on Measurement" were published at Nuremberg in 1525 and was the first book for adults on [[mathematics]] in German,<ref name="Bartrum"/> as well as being cited later by [[Galileo]] and [[Johannes Kepler|Kepler]]. The other, a work on city fortifications, was published in 1527. "The Four Books on Human Proportion" were published posthumously, shortly after his death in 1528 at the age of fifty-six.<ref name=Mueller />
Dürer died in Nuremberg at the age of 56, leaving an estate valued at 6,874 florins—a considerable sum. His large house (purchased in 1509 from the heirs of the astronomer [[Bernhard Walther]]), where his workshop was located and where his widow lived until her death in 1537, remains a prominent Nuremberg landmark. <ref name="Bartrum"/> It is now a museum.
=== Dürer and the Reformation ===
Although Dürer was a [[Roman Catholic]], it is clear from his writings that he was highly sympathetic to [[Martin Luther]]. Dürer wrote of his desire to draw Luther in his diary in 1520: "And God help me that I may go to Dr. Martin Luther; thus I intend to make a portrait of him with great care and engrave him on a copper plate to create a lasting memorial of the Christian man who helped me overcome so many difficulties." In a letter to [[Nicholas Kratzer]] in 1524 Dürer wrote "because of our Christian faith we have to stand in scorn and danger, for we are reviled and called heretics." Most tellingly, Pirckheimer wrote in a letter to [[Johann Tscherte]] in 1530: "I confess that in the beginning I believed in Luther, like our Albert of blessed memory...but as anyone can see, the situation has become worse." Dürer may even have contributed to the [[Nuremberg]] City Council mandating Lutheran sermons and services in March 1525. Notably, Dürer had contacts various reformers, such as [[Huldrych Zwingli|Zwingli]], [[Andreas Karlstadt]], [[Philipp Melanchthon|Melanchthon]], [[Desiderius Erasmus|Erasmus]] and [[Cornelius Grapheus]] from whom Dürer received Luther's 'Babylonian Captivity' in 1520.<ref>Price:225-248</ref> In spite of all these reasons to believe Dürer was sympathetic to Lutheranism, at least in its early manifestations, he never in any way abandoned the Catholic Church.
Dürer's later works have also been claimed to show [[Protestant]] sympathies. For example, his engraving of ''[[The Last Supper]]'' of 1523 has often been understood to have an [[Evangelicalism|evangelical]] theme, focussing as it does on Christ espousing the [[Gospel]], as well the inclusion of the [[Eucharist]]ic cup, an expression of Protestant [[Utraquist|utraquism]],<ref>Strauss, 1981</ref> although this interpretation has been questioned.<ref>Price:254</ref> The delaying of the engraving of [[Philip the Apostle|St Philip]], completed in 1523 but not distributed until 1526, may have been due to Dürer's uneasiness with images of Saints; even if Dürer was not an [[iconoclasm|iconoclast]], in his last years he evaluated and questioned the role of art in religion.<ref>Harbison</ref>
== Legacy and influence ==