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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Albrecht Altdorfer financed his career by selling prints of his etchings to the masses at affordable prices which enabled him to also quickly spread his name as an artist.

During the times of Altdorfer there were a number of other artists also making use of etching and woodcuts within the Bavaria and Austrian area. Wolf Huber (1485–1553) was perhaps the most successful of all at this and is described by one art historian, Christopher S. Wood, as having turned it into a cottage industry.

In the early 16th century there was a battle between Huber and also Lucas Cranach as to who was the first to produce the technique of chiaroscuro woodcuts within this part of Europe, with the former being most likely to have first introduced this into their varied careers. There was also controversy over whether woodcuts could ever match the ingenious detail and be faithful to the skills of the artist as much as pen and ink drawings, so most artists would continue to create art in each of these different mediums.

In the present day, print reproductions have of course reached a whole new level, with most citizens in the western world able to add their favourite art to their own homes. As the economic balance of the world changes, this is now possible in many other regions too, such as Asia and South America. Like many of the original crafts, elements of the original techniques have been replaced by automated machinery, leading to a more homogenous product. The opportunities for profit have now switched away from the Renaissance artists to individual companies, with copyright rights long since lost.

Some of the colour schemes used by Albrecht Altdorfer are particularly bright and the charming detail has ensured his original work is popular as art prints for those looking to add some of the highlights of the Danube School into their own homes. The combination of sprawling landscapes with full length figures and, in some cases, beautifully depicted traditional architecture means there is much to enjoy.