Altdorfer, Albrecht (c. 1480-1538). German painter and graphic artist working in Regensburg, of which town he was a citizen from 1505 onwards, the leading artist of the so-called Danube School.
His training is unknown, but his early work was influenced by Cranach and Dürer's art too was known to him through the woodcuts and engravings. Mingled with these German impresions was a knowledge of the art of Mantegna, perhaps through the mediation of Michael Pacher.
Yet in spite of these varied influences Altdorfer's style always remained personal. Most of his paintings are religious works, but he was one of the first artists to show an interest in landscape as an independent genre. In works such as the altar for S. Florian near Linz (1518) or the Christ Taking Leave of His Mother (National Gallery, London) he achieved a wonderful unity of mood between action and landscape, and two pure landscape paintings (without any figures) by him are known (National Gallery, London, and Alte Pinakothek, Munich). His patrons included the emperor Maximilian and Louis X, Duke of Bavaria, for whom he painted the celebrated Battle of Issus (Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 1529), which formed part of a large series of famous battle-pieces from Classical antiquity. With its dazzling light effects, teeming figures, and brilliant colors, it is one of the finest examples of Altdorfer's rich imaginative powers.
From 1526 until his death Altdorfer was employed as town architect of Regensburg. No architectural work by him is known, but his interest in architecture and his skill in handling intricate problems of perspective are demonstrated by his Birth of the Virgin (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).
Photographs by Carol Gerten-Jackson.
Thanks to the BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum mirrors, partners and contributors for their support.