1520-25; Alte Pinakothek, Munich
The Danube Valley near Regensburg
c.1510; Wood; Private collection
Note: probably the same painting as the above, as only two 'pure' landscape paintings of Altdorfer are known -- Nicolas
Altdorfer became a citizen of Regensburg in 1505, and later the Surveyor of the city's buildings. The steeply wooded stretch of the Danube below the city, with the castle of Worth, appears in several Altdorfer paintings.
Albrecht Altdorfer, like his fellow German Lucas Cranach the Elder, was a stay-at-home. He may well have some of the topographical watercolors that Dürer brought home with him after his roamings across the Alps. After Altdorfer's own trips along the river Danube, landscape was to become his passion. Altdorfer's landscapes are of peculiarly Germanic character, bristling with wild forests and lonely, wolf-infested glades. They are fearsome, though magnificent, and they even contain the hint of irrationality overcoming sobriety. Altdorfer does maintain control, but we feel the threat.
The Danube Valley is one of the first examples of a painting that is content to have no human beings in it at all. It stands or falls by the sheer quality of the sky, the trees, the distant river, the blue mountains. We are offered a romantic substitute for mankind, one purer and more open to the ethereal heavens. Altdorfer believes in the sacramental value of what he paints, and it is his conviction that convinces.