Albrecht Dürer - View of Arco

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View of Arco
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528)
Watercolor on paper, 22.1- 22.1 cm. (8,7 x 8,7 in)
Paris, Louvre.

When speaking of the pioneers of landscape painting in the Western world, some artists like Joachim Patinir and Albrecht Altdorfer are always mentioned, while the great Albrecht Dürer is often forgotten even though he was arguably the first European artist to paint “pure” landscapes. What can explain this “oblivion”? The most logical explanation is that watercolors have always been a bit overlooked when compared to oil. Another possible explanation is that Dürer himself seems to despise the landscape genre by not signing his extraordinary watercolors. And finally, Dürer’s contribution to European painting was so extraordinary that labeling him as a “landscape painter” would be underestimating him.

As one of the greatest geniuses of the Renaissance, Dürer was attracted by the nature around him. This interest led him to study in detail and to draw with incredible precision figures of animals (such as "Young hare” from 1502) and plants (“Tall Grass”, 1503). In addition, during and after his first journey to Italy he created some excellent watercolors whose sole subject is the landscape. Among these, the most famous is "View of Arco”.

"View of Arco" is a very accurate representation of the town of Arco, in Northern Italy. The landscape is shown under uniform illumination, without any atmospheric effect, allowing a detailed representation of the mountains, the vegetation and the architecture. Despite its small size, the watercolor has a certain monumentality.

Like other watercolors by Dürer, such as his "Pond in the Forest" (1496) or "View of Kalchreut " (1511), "View of Arco" is a pure and free landscape that seem to anticipate the works of the great landscape painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

G. Fernández -

Dürer - Pond in the woods

"Pond in the woods", is another sensational watercolour by Dürer (British Museum, London).

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