Durer chose to deliver a truly precise depiction of his teacher here. Every element is impressively lifelike and one can witness the signs of ageing just as well as if we were staring directly at an elderly man in person. See how tight the skin fits around Michael Wolgemut's jawline, and the protruding nose which starts to dominate all the other facial features. His eyes strike a piercing glare into the distance and you will also notice the lines of loose skin around his neck. This is intended as a respectful but honest portrayal, just as his teacher would have wanted. Michael Wolgemut passed away three years after this painting was completed at the age of 85 which was particularly old within the norms of 16th century society. Durer decided to append these dates to the work after his teacher had passed away as a fitting tribute to someone who had given him so much guidance during his career.
The artist used lindenwood here as the basis for the canvas, just as he did for several other portraits. The piece is small, at around 29cm in length by 27cm in width, making it hard to comprehend as to just how he managed to incorporate such extraordinary, lifelike detail. It was, of course, down to the genius of the man himself, as well as the excellent teachings that he received in the early part of his career. He always remained respectful of those who had helped his development and it was fortunate that Wolgemut was able to live long enough to see his young student develop so well and build an impressive career of his own. Wolgemut is now today better known for his connection to Durer than through his own work, but his role should never be forgotten or underplayed. He himself had a huge workshop in which he took on a number of students alongside Durer. Albrecht would complete his apprenticeship here between the years of 1486 to 1489, a good three decades before this portrait was completed.
This memorable portrait painting can now be found in the permanent collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in the artist's hometown of Nuremberg, Germany. It is pleasing that a good number of Durer's artworks still remain within Nuremburg, and even his home is still open to the public and preserved in his name. Those fortunate enough to visit the Germanisches Nationalmuseum will get the opportunity to view more of his work as well as discovering other related artists from around that period and beyond, with this institution concentrating on promoting the achievements of German artists across the ages. Some of the other highlights in their collection which might be of interest to you include the likes of Portrait of Barbara Dürer, also by Durer, Martin Luther and Venus and Cupid, the Honey Thief by Lucas Cranach and a good selection of artworks by Hans Baldung Grien. Dürer's Rhinoceros is also located here.