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216 × 138 × 28 mm
384 pages
220 illustrations, 70 in colour
01 Mar 2013

Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape Revised and Expanded Second Edition Christopher S. Wood

The first independent or ‘pure’ landscapes in Western art were produced in southern Germany in the first decades of the sixteenth century. They were painted, drawn and etched by Albrecht Altdorfer of Regensburg and his only slightly less flamboyant contemporary Wolf Huber of Passau. These radical experiments in landscape appeared without advance notice and disappeared from view almost as suddenly.

Altdorfer converted outdoor settings into a theatre for stylish draughtsmanship and extravagant colour effects. At the same time, his landscapes offered a densely textured interpretation of that quintessentially German locus, the forest interior. In this revealing study, now available in a revised and expanded second edition, Christopher S. Wood shows how Altdorfer prised landscape out of its subsidiary role as setting and background for narrative history painting and devotional works, and gave it a new, independent life of its own.

‘Christopher Woods 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. Woods reading of Altdorfers works represents some the most brilliantly sustained accounts of the origins of landscape to have appeared in many years.’ — Simon Schama

‘A study that is bound to become a standard work.’ — Independent on Sunday

‘The well chosen illustrations are a revelation.’ — The Times

‘sumptious’ — Daily Telegraph

‘Excellent illustrations . . . [and] detailed exuberant comments leave the reader in no doubt about Altdorfers brilliance and originality.’ — Anthony Grafton, The New York Review of Books

‘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

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Christopher S. Wood is Professor in the Department of History of Art, Yale University.

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