By Christopher S. Wood
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Extra info for Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape: Revised and Expanded Second Edition
Sociological interpretations of the origins of landscape have been aimed directly against this sort of neo-Romanticism. Such interpretations dismiss the reunification with nature proposed by landscape painting as an aesthetic fiction. Art, in other words, should not deceive us into thinking we are actually making contact with nature; in pictures the culture merely constructs a nature. But materialist art history is often tinged with its own nostalgia, not for the pre-modern and pre-technological art of nature, but for a pre-bourgeois life of nature.
Joachim Patenir, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, oil on panel, × . Museo del Prado, Madrid. Landscape and text Max J. Friedlander, who in published the first book on Altdorfer, later wrote that ‘in the Netherlands we can, if put to it, trace the germination and efflorescence of landscape as an historical process – at least we are impelled to make the attempt’. There are a number of reasons for this. Artists used to make symbolic world maps by dividing a circle into three horizontal bands standing for sea, land and sky.
British Museum, London. Dutch master, Tomb of Darius, miniature from a manuscript Historie des Bijbels, Utrecht, . Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels. The acknowledgement of a common purpose with textual culture helped legitimate the new Netherlandish landscapes of the s and s. It was, after all, not hostility toward subject-matter which distinguished these pictures, but rather the generosity toward terrain displayed by the horizontal format and the high horizon. Horizontality was an essential element of the novelty of the sixteenth-century Netherlandish landscape.