- Museum number
Wild man carrying an uprooted tree over one shoulder; moving towards the foreground, two trees beyond, part of a town visible beyond and below. 1508
Pen and black ink, heightened with white; on red-brown prepared paper
Verso: Architectural studies; including an arch, in pen and black ink
- Production date
Height: 214 millimetres
Width: 146 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is a characteristic example of Altdorfer’s exuberant graphic style, in which he has combined black and white pen lines with coloured paper to heighten the atmospheric setting. The subject of wild men and their families living in the extensive central European forests played an important part in German mythology and was a much-loved theme in German and Swiss art of the medieval and Renaissance period. Altdorfer's early drawings produced in the years 1506/7, were highly individual in character, but the figures in them were rather stiff in posture; by 1508, the date of this drawing, he had developed a freedom of expression ideally suited to his subject. A similar style is seen in his other drawing of the same year, ‘St Nicholas rebuking the storm’ in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (inv. no. P.268; Winzinger, ‘Altdorfer’, pl. 5). The wild man's uncontrolled strength and the exuberant growth of the foliage are admirably captured through his sketchy but deft use of the pen. Similarly, in the Oxford drawing, the raging of the sea and the miraculous intervention are made quite credible through his dramatic 'shorthand', emphasised in the present drawing with a skilfully expansive use of white bodycolour. An even more lively woodland scene with a wild man and his family, executed c. 1510, is in the Albertina, Vienna (inv. no. 17548.D.215; Winzinger, ‘Altdorfer’, pl. 24). Altdorfer also made a small painting of a wild family in 1507 (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie). The architectural and geometrical studies on the verso of this sheet are among the earliest of their kind by Altdorfer. Winzinger links them with the vaulting in Altdorfer's etching, the ‘Interior of the synagogue in Regensburg’, of 1519 (Bartsch, viii, pp. 63f., no. 63); but there is no reason for assuming an immediate connection. Altdorfer was employed as an architect and this interest is revealed in his paintings. Architectural drawings by him and his circle are among the finest of the period in south Germany (see Winzinger, ‘Altdorfer’, pls. 107-12; P. Halm, ‘Munich Jahrbuch’, DF, ii, 1951, pp. 127ff).
Lit. from Rowlands 1993: Winzinger, Altdorfer, pp. 66ff, no. 6, repr. (for further literature); Oettinger, Altdorfer-Studien, pp. 15-17, 37; F. Winzinger, Vienna Jahrbuch, xviii (xxii), 1961, pp. 11ff., repr. (verso); BM Dürer and Holbein, pp. 158-9, no. 127, repr.
Additional lit: H. Mielke, Altdorfer exh cat Berlin and Regensburg, 1988, p.70, repr.p.74
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984 BM, Master Drawings & Watercolours, no. 64
1988 Jul-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no. 127
2003 Oct-Dec, Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of BM
2004 Jan-Mar, Kobe, City Museum, Treasures of BM
2004 Apr-Jun, Fukuoka, City Museum, Treasures of BM
2004 Jun-Aug, Niigata, Prefectural Mus of Fine Arts, Treasures of BM
2015 Mar-Jun, Vienna, Kunsthistorische Museum, 'Realms of Imagination'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired from Obach & Co in exchange for duplicates; Obach bought for the BM at the Lanna sale.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number