Olga's Gallery

Albrecht Altdorfer Biography

Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538) was a German painter, engraver, architect and leading member of the "Danube School" of German painting. His most outstanding works are biblical and historical subjects set against highly imaginative and atmospheric landscape backgrounds.

Nothing is known about the painter’s training and early beginnings. There is evidence that since 1505 he lived in Regensburg, where he bought property in 1513. In 1510 Altdorfer traveled in the Alpine countries. It seems highly probable that he also went to Italy; the ‘Italian influence’ could be sensed in his brilliant handling of spatial construction in the St. Florian Passion altar panels (after 1510). His election to the town council in 1519 and to the inner council in 1526 shows his good standing in Regensburg. It is also known that he served as civic architect, though there is no information about his architectural work. It is possible that he was involved in the design of the pilgrim church Zur Schonen Madonna (now the new Neupfarrkirche) at Regensburg.

Altdorfer was one of the most talented painters in the whole of German art. He achieved, through his color modulation, completely new ways of expression directed at the emotions. His tendency towards the ‘romantic’ is particularly obvious in his landscapes. He was the first European artist to paint a ‘pure’ landscape, and in many of his other paintings figure and landscape merge in such a way that the scenic becomes the background, St. George (1510). He was also the first to paint a major battle picture Alexander's Victory (The Battle at the Issus) (1529). In his later works Altdorfer moved towards Mannerism. He was also a pioneer of copper etching.

The artist died in 1538.


Altdorfer. by I. Velchinskaya. Moscow. 1977. (in Russian)

Albrecht Altdorfer. by J. Kirshbaum. Köln. 1978.

Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Iskusstvo. Moscow. 1999. (In Russian)

Albrecht Altdorfer: The St. Florian Passion Alter by Edwin Maria Landau. Periodicals Service Co, 1983.

Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape by Christopher S. Wood. REAKTION BOOKS, 1993.