Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape by Christopher S. Wood

By Christopher S. Wood

The 1st self sustaining or ‘pure’ landscapes in Western paintings have been produced in southern Germany within the first many years of the 16th century. They have been painted, drawn and etched by way of Albrecht Altdorfer of Regensburg and his basically somewhat much less flamboyant modern Wolf Huber of Passau. those radical experiments in panorama seemed with out enhance discover and disappeared from view virtually as suddenly.

Altdorfer switched over outdoors settings right into a theatre for classy draughtsmanship and indulgent color results. whilst, his landscapes provided a densely textured interpretation of that quintessentially German locus, the wooded area inside. during this revealing examine Christopher S. wooden indicates how Altdorfer prised panorama out of its subsidiary function as surroundings and historical past for narrative background portray and devotional works, and gave it a brand new, autonomous lifetime of its personal.

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The images became the focus and the fuel for a massive pilgrimage. Thousands worshipped and purchased Altdorfer’s woodcuts and metal badges. The credulity and superstition of these pilgrims, and the fervid commerce of images, appalled many observers and helped to shift opinions in the direction of Lutheran and Zwinglian reform. The first iconoclasm provoked by the Reform took place in Wittenberg in ; many similar episodes, orderly and violent, followed. And by the s, long after the Marian pilgrimage had been discontinued, Altdorfer as a city councillor was actually encouraging the introduction of Lutheranism to Regensburg.

Followers in Antwerp over the next decades painted horizontal panoramas of fantastic landscape seen from a bird’s-eye view. A painting like the Rest on the Flight in Madrid technically still had subject-matter. But it violently reversed the ordinary hierarchy of subject and setting (illus.  Patenir converted a workshop speciality into a livelihood and a reputation.  Moreover, the Italian enthusiasts of Netherlandish painting did not hesitate to describe pictures which still had recognizable subject-matter as landscapes.

Esther Cleven has recently proposed that David, who habitually painted tall, billowing trees in the backgrounds and margins of his altars and devotional panels, was offering the landscapes as a kind of signature or trademark.  At least one of Lorenzo Lotto’s small painted allegories was a portrait cover (see p. ). A seventeenth-century inventory describes a lost work by Dürer with a ‘landscape, a hunting-scene, lovely foliage’ and two women holding the arms of the Pirckheimer and Rieter families, painted on parchment pasted on panel.

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