The Thought for the Day – Will Durant, on Albrecht Durer

Albrecht developed slowly; his genius lay in ambition, perseverance, patience. – Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Reformation


Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was a German artist who flourished in a variety of mediums including, but not limited to, woodcutting, engraving, pen-and-ink drawing and oil painting. His Self-Portrait at 28 is regarded by some as one the finest self-portraits ever and Durer’s high opinion of himself is plain in this painting, as it bears no small resemblance to a portrait of Christ. His influence on other artists was profound and both the Lutheran and Episcopal churches commemorate him with a day of remembrance.

We thought it interesting, however, that Durant would attribute these characteristics to Durer because Durer was an accomplished and well-known artist in his 20’s. Durer started out plying his father’s trade of goldsmith, but his talent at drawing was plain and he was apprenticed out at age 15. He traveled extensively learning his crafts, though he generally always returned to Nuremberg.

As we tend to say every hour on the hour here, we are all born with certain talents and ambitions. Not only that, we have these talents and ambitions in varying measures, too, and it is good to note that ambition, as noted here, is not merely wanting to become rich or famous, it is about knowing what you are about and having a plan for your life.

…his genius lay in ambition, perseverance, patience.

While we all have varying amounts of talent, all of us can have a full measure of ambition, perseverance and patience. If we have these elements, we don’t have to wait till our time comes to die to be looking back on a good life. Even now perseverance and patience should have yielded some attainments, life’s great prize. If you have tried to attain anything of substance you will also be looking back at some failures, life’s great lesson and until you die you should also be persevering for further accomplishments, life’s great challenge.

As we say here a lot, it doesn’t really matter what those attainments are. All that matters is they are the result of things we are compelled to do from deep inside us, that we are living from the inside out, that we are following our hearts and trusting our instincts.

Not all of us have the measure of talent that Durer had. But all of us can have full measures of the ambition, perseverance and patience required to live the life we were meant to lead.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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