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By Christopher S. Wood
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Additional info for Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape: Revised and Expanded Second Edition
Horizontal strips of landscape were frequently painted along the lower edge of the altar painting itself. Karel van Mander in described a work he knew by the fifteenth-century Dutch painter Albert van Ouwater: ‘at the foot (voet) of the altar was a pleasant (aerdigh) landscape in which many pilgrims were painted . The altar is lost, but the scene may have been a detached predella. In a Sicilian–Venetian altarpiece of , the Madonna of the Rosary in Messina by Antonello de Saliba, a landscape panel is physically inserted into the bottom of the main composition.
Bellini and Mantegna were competing for the attention of the most exacting northern Italian collectors. Belting recapitulates the successive fine-tunings of the pictorial categories: garrulous narrative was trimmed to an iconic core; the imperative and static image was then in turn reanimated in order to pull it back from iconicity. Out of this dialectic emerged a class of pictures whose consanguinities with the most ancient Christian images were at once more conspicuous and less binding than ever before.
But then Barthes conceded that painting, unlike writing, could introduce artificial interference, as it were, as a code for indeterminacy. He was evidently thinking of painterly techniques such as the deliberate dissolution of outlines, smoky or fading boundaries between colour areas, or atmospheric perspective. Venetian brushwork and palette immediately warned beholders either to drop their iconographical antennae, or to keep them raised and savour the vain effort to clear up the muddle. The Florentine Vasari, only two generations later, was stumped by Giorgione’s frescoes on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the German merchants’ compound at the Rialto.
Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape: Revised and Expanded Second Edition by Christopher S. Wood