“The participation of the apostles,” Albrecht Altdorfer – overview of the painting

“The participation of the apostles,” Albrecht Altdorfer – overview of the painting
“The participation of the apostles,” Albrecht Altdorfer - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Albrecht Altdorfer
  • Museum: Berlin Art Gallery
  • Year: 1516-1518

Overview of the painting :

The participation of the apostles is Albrecht Altdorfer. 1516-1518. Wood, butter. 42 x 32.5 cm

   The work of the painter and master of engraving Albrecht Altdorfer, the brightest representative of the Danube school, focused mainly on religious subjects. Presumably, in 1516 he addressed a popular topic, repeatedly reproduced by artists – the sacrament of the apostles.

   Communion or Eucharist is a priesthood that provides for the consecration of bread and wine in a special way and their use after. Thus, adherents of the Christian religion join the Blood and the Body of Christ and unite with God in Christ. The symbolic meaning of this sacrament was explained to his apostles by Jesus himself in the Last Supper, which preceded the execution.

   As already mentioned, many artists were captured by this plot, presenting their vision of the New Testament history. But Albrecht Altdorfer cannot be confused with anyone! This famous master of the times of the Northern Renaissance moved his heroes from buildings / rooms / halls (as in other painters) to the countryside.

   The fabulously beautiful background is distinguished by beauty and some kind of romanticism. A gray-blue sky with heavy white clouds, a serene and beautiful, serrated uneven contour of mountains or rocks, a mighty thick-barreled tree that is located on the right side of the picture, an old stone arch, overgrown with grass and flowers – the nature of Altdorfer is written with special care and thoroughness. Each element is clearly visible (grasses, leaflets, crevices of stones), and some researchers argue that this is all the influence of the engraving, to which Albrecht devoted no less time in his work.

   Against the background of this fabulous beauty, an action full of household details unfolds. We see barefoot apostles dressed in bright loose clothes (it can be noted that the artist is trying to give the texture to drapery and fabric folds). They are each busy with their own affairs: some stand by the tree with a large group and discuss something; the other two sat on stones; the third are a little at a distance and are not so detailed.

   The artist did not depict the very action of the sacrament – it seems that we see the events that preceded this.

   The artist’s technique is special for that time – the master works with a small brush, applying small, uneven strokes. The colors of Altdorfer choose quite bright and contrasting (this can not be seen well enough on reproduction): red, yellow, blue, greenish. As a result of the texture, the author gets dry and motley.

   The painter did his religious work very “natural” and, of course, departed from religious canons. Therefore, “The participation of the apostles” is not just an author’s interpretation of the religious plot, but a small picturesque novel, full of beauty and poetry.