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Pirckheimer, Willibald (1470–1530)

Pirckheimer, Willibald (14701530)

German author and humanist, and patron of Albrecht Dürer and other leading German artists of the city of Nuremberg. He was born in Eichstätt, a town in the southern state of Bavaria, and studied law in Italy as a young man. His experience in Italy brought him into contact with the humanism of the Renaissance, in which scholars were studying the ancient writers and inspiring a rebirth of art and philosophy. His abilities crossed many different fields, and brought him the notice of the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1499 Pirckheimer commanded a company of infantry in the Swabian War between the emperor and the independence-minded Swiss. After his return to Germany, Pirckheimer had settled in Nuremberg, where he became a prosperous lawyer and a leading public official, a man of letters and, notably, the patron of Dürer. Pirckheimer gathered one of the largest personal libraries in Germany and translated ancient Greek and Latin books, including the Geography of the astronomer Ptolemy, into German. He wrote influential essays on art, humanistic thinking, and on the various controversies dividing the Protestant church. As a close friend of Dürer, he helped the artist make important journeys to Italy, where Dürer came under the influence of Italian Renaissance art and philosophy.

See Also: Dürer, Albrecht

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