Albrecht Altdorfer

Datesabout 1480 - 1538

Albrecht Altdorfer probably trained in a manuscript illuminator's shop, but, as city architect for Regensburg, he also built a slaughterhouse, a wine storage building, and fortifications for the city's walls. With this success, he acquired three homes and several vineyards. He also worked for such patrons as Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Duke William of Bavaria. Chosen Regensburg's mayor in 1528, Altdorfer declined because he needed time to complete a gigantic painting for the duke.

Altdorfer's formats ranged from postage-stamp-sized etchings to life-sized paintings. In addition to prints and paintings, he made colored-ground chiaroscuro drawings and designed stained-glass windows. Fantasy, brilliant colors, and dazzling light effects at sunset or dawn marked his paintings, which usually depicted landscape.

The first landscape painter in the modern sense and the leading figure of the Danube School, Altdorfer introduced landscape as a theme of its own in art. Unlike most of his German contemporaries, he painted few portraits, preferring to focus on the virgin forest or to use it as a setting for both secular and religious subjects. With their gestures, facial expressions, and color distorted for dramatic and emotional ends, his figures complemented his landscapes, themselves alive with an unusual sense of character.