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St. George Killing the Dragon

St. George Killing the Dragon

Artist: Albrecht Altdorfer (German, 1480 - 1538)

Date: 1511
Medium: ink on paper
Sheet (cut to image): 7 1/8 x 5 9/16 in. (18.1 x 14.1 cm)
Image: 7 1/8 x 5 9/16 in. (18.1 x 14.1 cm)
Framed: 19 1/8 x 15 13/16 x 1 in. (48.6 x 40.2 x 2.5 cm)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 1931.732.1

Albrecht Altdorfer studied the art of Cranach, Dürer, and Mantegna. Like Dürer, he traveled to Italy and was fascinated by the art being produced there. He became more and more interested in Italian art throughout his career, and even tried his hand at fresco. But his natural affinity was for landscapes and the raging beauty of the southern German countryside. In his works, the landscape tends to overpower the figures.

His genius responded most vividly to the world of weeds and roots, of looming trees and massive cliffsides—it is the same southern German landscape which so richly informs the tales of Grimm, which were likely circulating in early forms at this time. Altdorfer's is perhaps the first European art since prehistoric times to concern itself directly with mysterious powers of the vegetable underworld—the epic grandeur and monstrosity of inhuman nature. Altdorfer's art is tortured by a tension between the wildness of German landscape, nature's ferocious spread, and the refined Italian figural tradition, which he admired but never truly made his own.

Albrecht Altdorfer created a wonderful print with a flamboyantly ornamented George slaying a mean-looking beast with a distinctly female torso. Altdorfer went on to create a fascinating image whose interpretation deviates dramatically from his Italian models.

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