Museums and Art

“Landscape with the Satyr family”, Albrecht Altdorfer - description of the painting

“Landscape with the Satyr family”, Albrecht Altdorfer - description of the painting

Landscape with the Satyr family - Albrecht Altdorfer. 23 x 20 cm

German artist and master of engraving at the turn of the XV-XVI centuries. The presented panel is a completely different plot layer, which is very popular among the masters of that time (both in painting and in literature): the lives of people and half-humans, half-animals against the backdrop of a natural landscape. Sometimes the creators turned to the mythological plots of Greece, and sometimes they themselves invented stories, making the main characters of satyrs and other subhuman beings. Such a fantasy is the painting Landscape with the Satyr family, painted in 1507.

On a gentle ledge of a cliff overgrown with trees and grass, the viewer sees a family of satyrs. The head of the family is a black man with goat legs. A naked blonde clings to him, supporting a baby who stands timidly on her hip. And in a nearby meadow, a little at a distance, another scene unfolds - a woman in a red dress is captured by a no less colorful character than a satire, a naked man. The poor thing is trying to dodge and escape from tenacious hands, but a naked character with a dead grip holds the girl either by the dress, or by the shoulder. The most interesting thing is that the satyr family does not pay attention to what is happening near them.

Considering this work, one should immediately pay attention to two aspects: the image of nature and the image of people and satyrs. Researchers note: it seems that Altdorfer was inspired by the landscapes of the Byzantine school, namely Giorgione. Although it is completely unknown whether the painter was in Venice. The original is very small, and we can say that the author worked in an innovative miniature technique.

The heroes in the picture look somewhat disproportionate - you should carefully consider the satyr's wife: the head is too small for such massive shoulders.

The picture is sometimes called the "Satyr Family", but this is not entirely accurate. It is the long title “Landscape with the Satyr Family” that conveys the artist’s plan most fully, because it was nature who gave the leading role to the artist.

The painting belongs to the early works of Altdorfer, and one of the first that the artist signed, taking as a basis the famous monogram of another painter, Albrecht Durer.

Over its long history, the picture managed to visit several collectors, until in 1874 it was put up for sale. The famous Berlin gallery became the lucky owner.


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