(German, c. 1480–1538)
Platemark: 11.8 x 16.3 cm (4 5/8 x 6 7/16 in.); Sheet: 11.8 x 16.3 cm (4 5/8 x 6 7/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1953.627
Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 91; Bartsch VIII.68.74; Winzinger 178
To make this early etching, the artist used an iron plate rather than the more supple copper, which would shortly come to dominate etching technique.
Primarily a painter and draftsman, Albrecht Altdorfer made only nine etchings, which were intended to imitate his drawings. Those he made between 1522 and 1525—printed in very small numbers for a growing market of print collector—are considered the first prints in European art to depict pure landscape without narrative or devotional content. Here, he displayed remarkable freedom of draftsmanship and apparent spontaneity. The site depicted cannot be readily identified,
and Altdorfer probably composed it from his imagination. Early etchings, such as this one, were made on iron rather than copper plates, which rendered the lines slightly hazy.
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