Although it has not been possible definitively to identify the artist of this exquisite drawing, his style - with dense, wiry penwork in the undergrowth and the drooping fern-like tendrils of foliage above - allows him to be identified as a member of the Danube School, probably active in the second decade of the 16th Century. The draughtsman's concern with pure landscape, and the striking composition of the sheet with the lofty trees towering above the modest signs of human habitation, show a kinship with the works of Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538) and Wolf Huber (circa 1490-1553), in which the natural setting often plays a dominant role.
When the drawing was exhibited in 1969, an attribution was suggested to the Master of the Miracles of Mariazell, whose name derives from a series of 25 woodcuts representing miracles associated with the pilgrimage church at Mariazell. A drawing in Budapest, showing The Martyrdom of Saints Barbara and Catherine, has been associated with the artist on stylistic grounds, but our knowledge of his graphic technique is largely based on his prints (J. Meder, 'Der Meister der Mariazeller Wunder - ein Maler', Zeitschrift des deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft, III (1936), p. 9). In his catalogue entry in 1969, John Clarke argued that the present drawing shares striking similarities with the Master's woodcuts, namely in the firm outlines around lighter areas such as the tree-trunks, which are given depth and shadow through the use of brisk, rapid parallel hatching on the bark, and in the play between light and dark in the foliage of the left-hand tree, which in its grace and intricacy recalls the folds of drapery represented in the prints.
The present drawing is also, however, very close in handling to a double-sided sheet of studies in the collection of the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen (E. Bock, Die Zeichnungen in der Universitüatsbibliothek Erlangen, Frankfurt, 1929, pp. 215-16, pl. 2.1.2). That drawing, which includes sketches for various subjects including the Conversion of Saint Paul, and Saint Christopher and the Christ Child, is dated 1515 and has been attributed to the Master of the Violin.
We are very grateful to Dr Fritz Koreny, and to Dr Iris Brahms of the University of Erlangen, for their assistance in preparing this catalogue note.