Christ Taking Leave of his Mother by Albrecht Altdorfer

This is one of Altdorfer's most famous works and the painting exemplifies his pioneer approach to landscape; it captures the strangeness associated with the art of Reformation Germany.


Oil on wood
139.2 x 108.7 cm
Art Fund grant:
£75,000 (; Tax remission)
Acquired in:
Werner Trustees

Its unusual subject derives from the fourteenth century and was regularly re-enacted in Easter and Passion plays, not least in Altdorfer's native Regensburg. Christ, accompanied by St. Peter and St. John the Evangelist, is implored by the Holy Women to delay his journey to Jerusalem and prevent his own death. Altdorfer equates humanity's earthly struggles and death with the rocky and arid foreground, upon which the Virgin swoons and the other Holy women grieve. The joys of the after-life are reflected in the idyllic forest landscape behind Christ and his disciples, with its luxurious vegetation. This was the first work acquired with funding from the Art Fund and the newly founded NHMF.


Owned by Sir Julius Wernher, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, where it remained until sold by the Wernher Trustees, 1908

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