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Altdorfer, Albrecht (b. c.1480, Regensburg, d. 1538, Regensburg)

German painter, engraver, architect and graphic artist working in Regensburg, of which town he was a citizen from 1505 onwards, the leading artist of the so-called Danube School of German painting. His most outstanding works are biblical and historical subjects set against highly imaginative and atmospheric landscape backgrounds.

The exact date and place of Albrecht Altdorfer's birth are unknown, although he was associated with the Bavarian city of Regensburg for almost all of his life. He is first documented there in 1505 when he acquired citizenship rights and was called a "painter from Amberg", a small town north of Regensburg. Since one could become a citizen in Regensburg at age sixteen, it is possible for Altdorfer to have been born as late as 1488, although an earlier date, circa 1480, seems more likely. Altdorfer became a citizen of Regensburg in 1505 and bought a house there in 1513, another in 1518 and a third in 1532; he also owned several vineyards. From 1517 he held seats on the outer and inner councils of Regensburg and represented the city on important official business. A portrait of Altdorfer is found in an illumination in the Freiheitenbuch (1536; Regensburg, Stadtmus.) by Hans Müelich, which represents him in minute profile among Regensburg's city councillors.

There is no record of Altdorfer's early training or travels, but it has been suggested that his father was the painter and miniaturist, Ulrich Altdorfer, last mentioned in Regensburg in 1491. Albrecht Altdorfer's signed and dated engravings and drawings first appeared in 1506 and were followed, in 1507, by several small paintings. Woodcut production began