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This extensive heritage does not merely, however, make it possible to gain a clearer picture of the character and figure of Durer than is possible for other artists of his age; his written legacy enabled Durer to take up a unique position in his age, in which he also differs from his predecessors and successors.
Durer's theoretical treatises give us concrete information regarding his methods of working, his didactic abilities and the theoretical and scientific knowledge which enabled him to write them.
In addition to 350 woodcuts and copper engravings, 60 paintings and about a thousand drawings and watercolors are known to exist.
During the course of the years Durer achieved the status of icon, and examples of this recognition include the reception of his Self-portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe and the way admiration of him was expressed in the 19th century by the erecting of monuments.
For example, he was the first artist north of the Alps to paint a self-portrait, and his watercolors were the first autonomous landscape depictions that were freed from the context of Christian iconography.
He was able to take part as an equal in discussions held in circles of famous academics and humanists, and acquired humanist knowledge himself.
After his death, Durer remained one of the most highly regarded of artists for centuries.
Even today, the term "Durerzeit" (age of Durer) represents the process of transition from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance in Germany.
Being German, he continued throughout his life to receive important artistic stimuli from the Netherlands and Italy.
Matthias Mende's bibliography, which appeared on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Durer's birth, contains more than ten thousand bibliographical references.
Every Durer revival since the 16th century has brought with it new views and insights.
Durer is the first German artist from whom such an extensive selection of private remarks and letters have survived, permitting us to draw conclusions about the artist as a person.
Contemporaries such as the Nuremberg patrician Christoph Scheurl (1481 - 1542) provide further clues, as do famous artistic biographers such as the Dutch Karel van Mander (1548-1606), the German artist Joachim von Sandrart (1606 - 1688) and the artist, architect and architectural theoretician Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574).
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Studies of the classical period, interpreted by the Italian Renaissance artists, left their mark on his work.