Albert and the whale

Albrecht Dürer was a 16th-century Andy Warhol

On 6 January 1506, Albrecht Dürer wrote from Venice to his friend Willibald Pirckheimer, who was at home in Nuremberg. The artist had already been in the city for a little while, and like many people who visit Venice he had spent a good deal of time shopping. Pirckheimer had asked him to buy some jewellery for him, ‘a few pearls and precious stones’, and the artist had been looking out for something suitable. There were, however, difficulties. For one thing, he says: ‘I can find nothing good enough or worth the money; everything is snapped up by the Germans.’ For another, Dürer complained, there were a lot of swindlers