Albrecht Dürer
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Albrecht Dürer

The Landscape with the Cannon (B. 99; M., Holl. 96; S.M.S. 85)

Albrecht Dürer
The Landscape with the Cannon
(B. 99; M., Holl. 96; S.M.S. 85)
etching, 1518, watermark Anchor in a Circle, a fine Meder a impression before all rustmarks, printing with great contrasts and depth, trimmed on or just inside the platemark, with thread margins in places below, generally in very good condition
P., S. 8 5/8 x 12½ in. (220 x 318 mm.)
Charles C. Cunningham Jr. (2nd half 20th cent.), New England (not in Lugt).
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Lot Essay

Although the landscape is not the primary subject of this etching - unusual in its horizontal format - it is still one of the first prints in western art in which landscape plays a prominent supporting role. In the foreground stands a large cannon, guarded by a lansquenet, while the other figures, dressed in Turkish and Hungarian attire, stand as onlookers nearby. The cannon does not seem to be aimed at anything in particular and there is no indication of a battle or even animosities between the various figures. The historical context and the relationship between the different elements - the cannon, the figures and the landscape remains unclear.

It has been suggested that the etching was created as 'propaganda' in support of Emperor Maximilian's military modernization and his plans for a new crusade against the Ottoman Empire. The cannon however is of an outdated design, and the figures depicted hardly suggest the imminent defeat of the old enemy.

Whilst the subject of the scene in the foreground remains unidentified, the beautiful landscape in the background is a view of the village of Kirchehrenbach in Franconia. It is based on a silverpoint drawing which Dürer probably drew in situ on his way to Bamberg. Since the etching is not intended to depict any historical event related to this particular village he saw no obstacle in relocating it to the coast, a transmutation seen in several other landscapes.

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