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Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape

Revised and Expanded Second Edition

Second Edition, Revised and Expanded

In the early sixteenth century, Albrecht Altdorfer promoted landscape from its traditional role as background to its new place as the focal point of a picture. His paintings, drawings, and etchings appeared almost without warning and mysteriously disappeared from view just as suddenly. In Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape, Christopher S. Wood shows how Altdorfer transformed what had been the mere setting for sacred and historical figures into a principal venue for stylish draftsmanship and idiosyncratic painterly effects. At the same time, his landscapes offered a densely textured interpretation of that quintessentially German locus—the forest interior.
This revised and expanded second edition contains a new introduction, revised bibliography, and fifteen additional illustrations.

440 pages | 70 color plates, 150 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2014

Art: European Art

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"Christopher Wood’s book will immediately be recognized as a landmark in the art history of Northern Renaissance. An astonishing tour de force of scholarship, it is also written with exhilarating verve and great intellectual power. It offers a wholly persuasive historical account of the emergence of a new genre, but does so without ever robbing the paintings of their formal complexity. Wood’s reading of Altdorfer’s works represents some the most brilliantly sustained accounts of the origins of landscape to have appeared in many years"

Simon Schama

"The well chosen illustrations are a revelation."

The Times (UK)

"This is an important book that will have a great and positive influence on the study of Northern art, and on the understanding of landscape painting generally."

Joseph Leo Koerner

"A study that is bound to become a standard work."

Independent on Sunday


Daily Telegraph

“Excellent illustrations . . . [and] detailed exuberant comments leave the reader in no doubt about Altdorfer’s brilliance and originality.”

Anthony Grafton | New York Review of Books

Table of Contents

1. Independent Landscape

Where landscape could appear

Landscape and text

Landscape as parergon or by-work

2. Frame and Work

The German artist’s career

Subject and setting

The Landscape study

3. The German Forest

Two-dimensional pleasures

Germania illustrata

Outdoor worship

Wanderer, traveller

4. Topography and Fiction 

The topographical drawing

Style in Altdorfer’s pen-and-ink landscapes

5. The Published Landscape

Altdorfer’s public

‘Printed drawings’

Order and disorder

Afterword to the Second Edition



List of Illustrations

Checklist of Landscapes


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