Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape - download pdf or read online

By Christopher S. Wood

The 1st autonomous or ‘pure’ landscapes in Western paintings have been produced in southern Germany within the first a long time of the 16th century. They have been painted, drawn and etched by means of Albrecht Altdorfer of Regensburg and his in simple terms somewhat much less flamboyant modern Wolf Huber of Passau. those radical experiments in panorama seemed with no enhance discover and disappeared from view nearly as suddenly.

Altdorfer switched over outside settings right into a theatre for sophisticated draughtsmanship and indulgent color results. even as, his landscapes provided a densely textured interpretation of that quintessentially German locus, the wooded area inside. during this revealing research Christopher S. wooden exhibits how Altdorfer prised panorama out of its subsidiary position as atmosphere and heritage for narrative historical past portray and devotional works, and gave it a brand new, self sustaining lifetime of its personal.

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Giorgione, he complained, had thought only of fashioning fanciful figures and displaying his art. Vasari found the frescoes unreadable. ’ But plenty of amateurs relished indeterminacy.  Meaning of this sort emerges out of a deliberate detachment from subject-matter. Crucial to Giorgione’s rhetoric of enigma was the overdevelopment of outdoor setting. Not only bits of narrative, but also allegories were often embedded in outdoor greenery. In Lorenzo Lotto’s Allegory or in his Maiden’s Dream, or in Piero di Cosimo’s Allegory in Washington, or in the grisaille verso of the portrait diptych of Alvise Contarini in New York, with its shadowy, draped, river-bank figure, landscape amputates and frustrates ordinary trains of thought, dialectical links, and temporal vectors.

These etchings were the only real bridge linking Altdorfer’s experiment to the next generation of German landscapists, and ultimately, through Bruegel, to the future of landscape. Where landscape could appear ‘Independent’ is really a negative description: it tells us more about what Altdorfer’s landscapes are not than about what they are. The independent landscape is, first of all, a complete picture not physically connected to any other picture. It is neither an element of a decorative scheme, such as the painted wall of a villa, nor part of an illuminated manuscript.

Some illuminators seized any pretext to frame a landscape. An agrarian panorama painted in Regensburg in , with trapezoidal fields and a heap of prismatic rocks, actually illustrates a moralistic text about larks (illus.  Other book painters exploited the lower margin or bas-de-page.  The bas-de-page opened up when miniaturists converted the lower edge of the frame, wound with schematic leaves or rinceaux, into a ground plane.  Altdorfer, too, when asked by    Emperor Maximilian to make marginal drawings for a printed Prayer Book, took advantage of the lower strip to draw a landscape – a spectral massif of turrets and crenellations on a rocky hill – in pale red ink (illus.

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