Copyright Dr. Eizabeth Garner, Aug 12, 2013. All rightd Reserves
“All art is a diary,” Pablo Picasso
I never expected to be a collector of Dürer’s art nor, in my wildest dreams, expected to find anything like the Dürer Cipher. Nor be in the position of hypothesizing two hands in the artworks of Germany’s currently most famous artist.
So far I have found no other historical information about known co-artists in the Renaissance. Yet, this could be from lack of interest by academia, chauvinism, or an unwillingness to consider the concept at all, especially if the co-artist was female. Dürer’s co-artist was female.
Renaissance Europe was not a promising place for female artists to emerge. Women were expected to marry and bear children, and those who did work were not welcomed into male dominated professions unless there was an economic need. In fact women were unable to even receive formal art training (a cornerstone of which was the study of the nude.) Yet those women who persisted, usually taught by their fathers, did go on to become established in their own right, usually patronized by a queen. We don’t see these women Renaissance painters until the late Renaissance, from 1510 onwards.
Yet the Nuremberg City Council was a bit more forward in their thinking in regards to women working in trades. If money could be made, women could be members of the Sworn Crafts or the Free Crafts, as could Jews. Dürer’s mother was a known goldsmith, recognized as so in the Death Registries. There are records of women working as woodblock cutters in Nuremberg and numerous records in the Death Registries of women performing in most other occupations in the city. The City was short of labor and needed everyone regardless of prejudice.
HOW NUREMBERG UNWITTINGLY PUBLISHED THE CRUCIAL CLUES
Germans record everything about their life, which is why the almost total lack of anything verifiable about Albrecht Dürer’s life is the most suspicious omission ever. The Nuremberg City Archives has more than 13,000 meters of shelving documenting the intimate lives of the Nuremberg Germans from as early as 1100 a.d. And yet almost nothing is truly known or verifiable about their most famous son, Albrecht Dürer.
What no one would have foreseen in 1971, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Dürer’s birthday, was the publication of the Nuremberg Death Registries of 1439-1517. The City of Nuremberg annually publishes what is called the Nürnberg Forschungen, a publication dedicated to Nuremberg history. In 1971 they dedicated the entire publication to updated research about Albrecht Dürer.
The Nuremberg Death Registries (Nürnberger Totengläut Bücher-actually, the Bell Ringing registries in German) were local church records that recorded the fact that someone paid for the church bells to be rung in honor of the death of a person. They do not record everyone who died, just those for whom the bells were tolled. The two main parish churches, St. Sebald and St. Lorenz each had their own records, so in effect, a living person could have the church bells rung for the deceased at both churches. Albrecht paid to have the bells rung at each church for his father, Albrecht the Elder, and that was duly noted by the church scribes in each registry.
Dürer’s mother did not get the same honor, Albrecht only paid for the St. Sebald bells to ring at her death and she was recorded as “Albrecht Türerin, Goldschmidt” which translates as Albrecht [the Elder]’s goldsmith wife.
What no one bothered with in 1971 once these death registries were published and for decades after, was the entries that actually did exist for Dürer family members, except for a marvelous researcher G. Hirschmann. Some time between May 16 and Aug 24, 1514, the bells were rung at the St. Lorenz church for a “Margret Dürerin.” Who was this Margret Dürerin?
In the Nuremberg German dialect, D, T, B, and P were interchangeable letters so the name Dürer was commonly written as Türer. Adding an “in” to the end of a name is how a female’s name is feminized in the German language. Most women’s maiden names and even their given forename were lost during Renaissance times, which happened with Dürer’s mother, Barbara (she became Albrecht Türerin-the wife of Albrecht Dürer (Türer)). We only know what her real maiden name is, yet to be deciphered, from the marriage alliance coat of arms Dürer painted in 1490 on the back of his father’s painting. Her crest is the Steinbok, the goat-antelope and that is related to her surname.
And yet, someone paid for the bells to be rung for a Margret Dürerin at the St. Lorenz church in 1514. And it is the only real incontrovertible proof that Margret Dürer(in), Albrecht’s 5th born sister (of 7) lived. The proof was ignored for decades.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The first question that needed to be solved was, was there another family named Dürer in Nuremberg? Detailed analysis of the death registries proved that the Albrecht Dürer family was the only one of that name in Nuremberg during 1439-1517. So any woman with the surname of Dürerin was definitely part of Albrecht’s family in some way.
What does the surname “Dürerin” mean? First, it means the person was a woman, a female. Second, it tells us that the woman was either an unmarried daughter of Albrecht the Elder or the wife of one of Albrecht’s brothers or the daughter of one of the marriages of Dürer’s brothers. Detailed analysis revealed that she could only have been Albrecht’s sister.
THE FRAUDULENT FAMILY CHRONICLE
And this is where a potential conspiracy is revealed. About a 100 years after Dürer’s death, a document titled “The autobiography of Albrecht Dürer” surfaced (Die Familie Chronik). The document was not in Dürer’s handwriting, so there will never be a way to authenticate this document, ever. Except partially with the data of the Nuremberg Death Registries, which no historian bothered to analyze except me. The recordation of Margret’s death, along with other clues, proves this Family Chronicle document is fraudulent.
WHY IS THE FAMILY CHRONICLE FAKE?
In the Family Chronicle, the writer, supposedly Albrecht Dürer, lists the birth dates of each of the 18 Dürer children born to his mother, Barbara. There were 11 boys and 7 girls. For each of the 11 boys, almost all the boys’ godfathers are independently traceable people and four of the 11 male siblings can be proved by independent means. For the 7 girls, only one godmother was traceable (for the 16th child Christina), a famous Nuremberg woman, Christina Bernhardin (Kyrstyna Pernhardin), wife of the famous astronomer, Bernhard Walthers. Walthers built the second observatory in Europe. Dürer bought Walther’s house and observatory in 1509; it is the Albrecht Dürerhaus today. This was public information.
Margret is listed as child #8, the second of twin girls, a Capricorn, born Jan 21, 1476 in the document.
In the Family Chronicle, we are told Margret died at birth, never assigned a godmother. And with this type of entry, Margret was erased from history, no one could ever find her. Until the publication of the Nuremberg Death Registries in 1971.
Next time we will explore Margret Dürer(in)’s life and how she functioned as the co-artist.
Copyright by Dr. Elizabeth Garner, all rights reserved worldwide, August 24, 2013
BUY THE BOOK! CRIMES IN THE ART: THE SECRET CIPHER OF ALBRECHT DÜRER