Landscape with a Double Spruce in the Foreground

Artist: Albrecht Altdorfer (German, Regensburg ca. 1480–1538 Regensburg)

Date: ca. 1521–22

Medium: Etching

Dimensions: Sheet: 4 5/16 x 6 5/16 in. (11 x 16 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, Gift of Halston, by exchange, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, and Pfeiffer Fund, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.1097


Altdorfer was a prolific printmaker, but he produced only nine landscape etchings, which date from about 1518 to 1522. These luminous images, lacking any traditional historical or religious narratives, were the first to celebrate landscape as the primary subject matter. This sheet shows an expansive Alpine vista with large mountains, nestled villages, and a river that winds its way beyond the two sprices that command the foreground. This etching was probably produced for a small market of connoisseurs with a taste for intimate and unusual subjects. The sheet demonstrates remarkable spontaneity and a freedom of draftsmanship that echoes that of the artist’s numerous landscape drawings. Altdorfer’s revolutionary landscapes galvanized a group of artists later known as the Danube School.