Albrecht Dürer, Landscape with a Cannon, an etching


British Museum

British Museum

The subject matter of this print is obscure. A Turk stands prominently in the foreground and surveys a large cannon on a four-wheeled gun carriage. While at this date Turkey posed a military threat to the West, it is unclear whether Dürer is referring to a topical issue.

The modern interest in the print lies in its etching technique and the magnificent landscape. From a high vantage point framed by a tree, our eye is drawn to the buildings below, where a path takes us through a field. A horse grazes there in the sun. Beyond the village is a prospect of mountains, ships and the sea. Landscape was not as yet an established subject for painters, but this comprehensive view stimulated other artists to explore the genre (for example, Albrecht Altdorfer).

This print was the last and most ambitious of Dürer's six etchings. Close inspection shows that the acid has bitten lines of uniform thickness, so that the outlines of objects are no heavier than the detail and modelling inside. Shapes emerge from the dense pattern of lines, but only after patient looking. See, for example, the two figures behind the cannon.

Despite the large editions that can be printed from an etched iron plate, Dürer did not persist with the technique, as it did not have the refinement and variety of marks that he could achieve with engraving.

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  • Title: Albrecht Dürer, Landscape with a Cannon, an etching
  • Date Created: 1518/1518
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 220.00mm; Width: 325.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: etching
  • Registration number: 1910,0212.308
  • Producer: Print made by D
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Salting, George