Willibald Pirckheimer (1470 - 1530) was one of the leading humanists in Germany, and translated writings by Xenophon, Lucian, Plutarch and Plato from Greek into Latin and German. He was Drer's closest friend and, with his knowledge of the ancient languages as well as of modern Italian, he made literary sources available to the artist which he could not have read for himself, most notably the recent publications from Italy by theorists such as Vitruvius and Alberti. Pirckheimer had studied for seven years in Italy, and was likely to have encouraged Drer to travel there in 1494 and again in 1505. He may have even provided funds for the trips. The two friends kept a continuous correspondence during the second Italian trip, ten of the letters still surviving. They are light-hearted and humorous in tone, and are not only an invaluable record of the artist's activities and concerns while in Italy, but also an interesting insight into the close relationship that he shared with the scholar.
It was Pirckheimer who composed the moving epitaph embossed on a plaque of bronze on Drer's tomb: 'Quicquid Alberti Dureri mortale fuit, sub hoc conditur tumulo' - 'Whatever was mortal of Albrecht Drer is buried under this tomb.'