Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538)
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The Rest of the Flight into Egypt
Albrecht Altdorfer was a Renaissance-era German painter, engraver and architect. A member of the Danube School, Altdorfer’s oeuvre consists mainly of breathtaking landscapes, historical scenes and biblical subjects. He also created sketches and was a master engraver and a portrait painter as well.
Christ on the Cross
Landscape with Satyr Family
Loth and His Daughters
Altdorfer’s early life and training remain a mystery to this day. It is generally thought that he lived in Regensburg as early as 1505, and eventually became a prominent member of the community. It is also thought that he traveled to the Alps as well as to Italy, and most likely studied the works of the Italian masters of the day. Like many other German artists of the day, he likely studied the work of Cranach and was also a student of Dürer, and much of his work clearly shows the influence of his master.
Portrait of a Lady
In 1519, Altdorfer was elected to the town council of Regensburg. It is also thought that Altdorfer was an official city architect; however no proof of his architectural work is known to exist today.
Susanna in the Bath and the Stoning of the Elders
Martyrdom of St. Sebastian
Some art historians credit Altdorfer as one of the most talented German artists of all time for his use of color and expression. His landscapes in particular are regarded as some of the finest, and it is believed that Altdorfer was the first European to paint a true landscape. While other artists of the day and before him created landscapes with figures intermixed, it is thought that Altdorfer was the first to solely paint landscapes.
View of the Danube Valley
Landscape with Path
Art historians also claim that Altdorfer was the first to create a painting of a major battle, like his painting “The Battle of Alexander.”
The Battle of Alexander
Among all of Altdorfer’s other accomplishments as an early German master, he is also considered a forerunner in copper etching. Some art critics and historians categorize him as one of the “Little Masters,” which consist of a group of 16th century engravers. These so-called “Little Masters” were not named for their small contribution to art, but for the scale in which they created engravings. Altdorfer and his co-engravers earned this name for precisely executing exquisite engravings on a very small scale. To date, there are some 50 known engravings attributed to Altdorfer.
Christ in Jerusalem
Today, his work is housed all over Europe in public and private collections and perhaps in your own home. Still wondering about a Renaissance-era German historical scene or landscape? Contact us…it could be by Albrecht Altdorfer.