Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) was born in the Franconian city of Nuremberg, one of the strongest artistic and commercial centers in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. He was a brilliant painter, draftsman, and writer, though his first and probably greatest artistic impact was in the medium of printmaking. More than any other Northern European artist, Dürer was engaged by the artistic practices and theoretical interests of Italy. He visited the country twice, from 1494 to 1495 and again from 1505 to 1507, absorbing firsthand some of the great works of the Italian Renaissance, as well as the classical heritage and theoretical writings of the region. While in Nuremberg in 1512, the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I enlisted Dürer into his service, and Dürer continued to work mainly for the emperor until 1519. The emperor is depicted here as an elegant private gentleman. The desired effect of dignity and power is achieved by the manner in which the emperor fills the frame and the brilliant execution of the fur collar. Several different interpretations have been suggested for the pomegranate in the emperor's hand: as a private proxy for the imperial orb, as a reference to the myth of Persephone and thus a reference to death, and as an allusion to the conquest of Granada by the Christian armies in 1492.