DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

Landscape with Cannon

Etching, 217 x 322 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This cannon, decorated with the coat-of-arms of the city of Nuremberg, is the weapon which gave superiority of firepower to Emperor Maximilian I in his fight against the infidels (the Turks were then threatening the borders of the Empire). For many years, and again during the Diet of Augsburg in 1518, the Emperor had urged a new crusade, only to be denied the necessary funds by the princes and estates. It is not quite clear whether the Turk in the etching is an ambassador or a prisoner. Dürer pictured a cannon of older vintage, which by then had been replaced by newer models cast in the Emperor's new foundry near Innsbruck.

The landscape is based on an earlier drawing of Reuth near Bamberg. For the Turk, Dürer made use of a drawing dating back some twenty years, but replaced the head with a likeness of himself. This etching is a masterpiece of panoramic breadth, perspective coherence and clarity, announcing a new and final phase in Dürer's development, and reinstating the predominance of painting and orthodox burin work. It is the largest of Dürer's etchings.