Category Archives: Reseach point: Research artists from different eras who use landscapes… Albrecht Durer.

Reseach point: Research artists from different eras who use landscapes… Albrecht Durer.

To contain time I’m going to spend a couple of hours on each of the artists mentioned in the research point.

Albrect Durer, Claude Lorrain, L.S.Lowry, George Shaw and Sarah Woodfine.

(1) Albrecht Durer (b Nurembourg 1471. d Nurembourg 1528.)

Background:

In his paintings he combined Netherland’s art (detail and finish) with Italian art (colour and life).

He’s also known for woodcuts and engravings which spread his fame wide in Europe in the sixteenth-century… so he influenced painters well beyond his home town, who would carry his traditions and insights into their own art.

Different artistic traditions would then incorporate and evolve his style in different ways.

‘Facts’ from The Art Book by Phaiden and suppositions from me.

Nuremberg (/ˈnjʊərəmbɜːrɡ/; German: Nürnberg; pronounced [ˈnʏɐ̯nbɛɐ̯k][2]) is a city on the river Pegnitz and on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria. The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the centre of the German Renaissance. In 1525, Nuremberg accepted the Protestant Reformation,

Above from Wikipedia… so he lived in the main artistic centre of Germany. Which would have meant rich patrons and a dynamic artistic community. This fits with him painting many self portraits (unusual) which raised the status of the artist (From Phaiden).

He was probably rich and cosmopolitan (he could afford to travel to Italy) and aware of his status. Nurembourg is on a river with castles and crags and forests all around so he was surrounded by the countryside.

My understanding is that most sixteenth century artists painted to commission… but presumably he painted his self portraits for himself… so he my have painted other work for himself… or on spec. to sell.

As a traveller he combined southern and northern styles (Phaiden) so was innovative. However he was not starving in a garrett and his paintings sold very well. This suggets that he worked in a vibrant artistic and social community open to change.

Finally, Nuremberg accepted the Protestant Reformation in 1525 and it would be interesting to know his final paintings show a change in style?

His paintings… I’m going to look at Bridgeman and try and find four:

View of the Arco Valley in the Tyrol, 1495 (pen & ink and w/c on paper)

View of Kachreuth, near Nuremberg, 1511 (w/c on paper)

View of Kachreuth, near Nuremberg, 1511 (w/c on paper)

View of Nuremberg, 1496-97 (w/c on paper)

View of Nuremberg, 1496-97 (w/c on paper)

The Watermill, 1495-97 (pen & ink, gouache and w/c on paper)

Firstly what’s interesting is that they’re all watercolour… so maybe there wasn’t a market for pure landscapes?

On a quick look (and this is probably more art history than ‘landscape’?) his oil paintings were myths, religious, saints and portraits… all subjects that would be commissioned. Though he used landscape in the background and settings of his paintings in quite a featured way, almost as a second character.

So his watercolours could have been as a resource for his painting… or for fun… or maybe there was a market for watercolour landscapes with the middle classes? Or poorer people?

There seems two distinct types…

His pure watercolours and pen and ink and watercolour.

Pure Watercolour

View of Nuremberg, 1496-97 (w/c on paper)

The view of Nuremberg reminds me of Turner for some reason?

The colours are muted – it’s underpainted without a lot of detail – more masses of colour than defined detail. There is aerial perspective and the walls recede… it’s clever having the path sideways and then turning so it’s wider in the distance, which confounds expectations.

The sky is neutral and the skyline marked with towers and churches.

Lighting seems evenly spread.

But for all that it captures something????

It lets you look at it without any tricks or enhancement… which is quite appealing.

But on another level, it could just be… a view?!

View of Kachreuth, near Nuremberg, 1511 (w/c on paper)

View of Kachreuth, near Nuremberg, 1511 (w/c on paper)

This seems sketchily painted too and again the sky/lighting is neutral.

Again, it could just be a view but…the black tree is intriguing? It’s almost like he’s spilt the paint????

But then

The black echoes and spreads all over the painting… on the hills and under the eaves of the houses. And yet, just as there is no reason for the black tree, there is no bright sunshine to cast the shadow???

And again… there is a whiff of Turner… in the unfinished roofs and the sketchy rendering.

Pen and ink and watercolour

These stand out as magically enhanced… and have detail.

View of the Arco Valley in the Tyrol, 1495 (pen & ink and w/c on paper)

View of the Arco Valley in the Tyrol, 1495 (pen & ink and w/c on paper)

It doesn’t look real and has lost that misty ‘Turner’ quality. These could be illustrations in a book. Or an oil painting… lots of interest – lots of detail – lots of colour.

The composition is aesthetic in line, colour and the lay of the shapes.

Strangely the sky, background and crag on the left aren’t just in the distance. They are barely sketched out… it’s as if valley were a character or story (a feature) and the rest not important.

The Watermill, 1495-97 (pen & ink, gouache and w/c on paper)

The Watermill, 1495-97 (pen & ink, gouache and w/c on paper)

This is interesting as it has a sky and atmosphere. The buildings and the tree, the sky and the water are all lit and colour enhanced. It creates a filmic mood which is quite modern.

It could be a still off the Hobbit film just before the fire dragons roll in! … or a 1930’s cartoon!!

Conclusion

Who am I to say of the great Durer… but it feels like he hadn’t quite ‘got’ landscape… for me they don’t work aesthetically or in terms of a concept… they seem incomplete and unfinished.

Where he has a feature like the valley or watermill and tree he brings them alive… he adds painterly structure in the view of Kachreuth by adding the black, but his landscapes feel like a sleeping beast. Additions to something else rather than fully developed in themselves.

Personally, my ‘favourite’ (not an artistic term!) is the simple view of Nuremburg as it feels like a landscape – not an addition – that just needs a touch of magic, like a swirl of mist, to bring it alive.

 

 

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