Danube School

   / Donauschule
   A dramatic pictorial style that arose in Bavaria and the Austrian lands in the late 15th century, the Danube School was not a single movement. Rather, the term applies to a number of widely scattered artists who used much the same subject matter and techniques to portray it. Its hallmarks were the placement of religious and sometimes secular themes in identifiably natural settings and the use of intense color. In the Vorarlberg, Wolf Huber (ca. 1485–1553), who was responsible for the St. Anna’s altar in Feldkirch (1521), did the first genuine landscapes to appear in the art of central Europe. The figurative outlines of all elements in the work were heavily linear and often wildly contorted, thus heightening the expressive force of the entire piece.
   The most notable Austrian representatives of the style were Roland Frueauf the Younger, who created the altar cycles of St. John around 1498–1499, and St. Leopold (1505?) in the Benedictine abbey of Klosterneuburg. Well-known painters from all over southern Germany left notable artistic monuments in Austria. Lukas Cranach (1472–1553) painted in St. Pölten and Zistersdorf in Lower Austria at the beginning of the 16th century. Perhaps the most wellknown artist, Albrecht Altdorfer (ca. 1480–1538), who was from Regensburg, came frequently to the Austrian lands and worked on the St. Sebastian altar cycle (1509–1518) for the cloister of St. Florian in Upper Austria. Though there is some scholarly debate about the authorship of a cycle depicting the life of Emperor Frederick III and the childhood of his son, Maximilian I, it is highly likely that it was done either by Altdorfer himself or by someone very closely associated with him. Some of the artists remained anonymous, for example, the Master of the Pulkauer Altar (ca. 1520), also in Lower Austria. This was also true of the “Masters of the Miracle of Mariazell” (1512, 1519) in Styria.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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