War Paint (Part 2): The Battle of Alexander at Issus

Part 2 in a 10 part series on war in art.

The Battle of Alexander at Issus is one of the most epic pieces of art you may ever lay eyes on. It was painted by Albrecht Altdorfer in 1529 after being commissioned by Duke William IV of Bavaria. It shows Alexander the Great’s resounding victory over Darius III of Persia at the Battle of Issus which took place in 333 BC. It was the decisive battle of the Macedonian king’s subjegation of the Persian Empire. The battle was a rout and King Darius fled, leaving behind his wife and children, who were taken into captivity. Darius himself would be captured a few short years later, never having been able to amount a response to his crushing defeat at Issus. Alexander would go on to form the largest empire in the Ancient World.

Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480—1538) — a German painter, engraver and architect of the Renaissance. By Phillip Killian, late 17th century.

Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480—1538) — a German painter, engraver and architect of the Renaissance. By Phillip Killian, late 17th century.

The man behind the masterpiece, Albrecht Altdorfer, was born in 1480 in Bavaria, either in Regensburg or the town of Altdorf. He lived and worked in Regensburg, on the Danube, and became a key member of the Danube School, a collection of painters, mostly living on the famed river, known for their landscapes. Some of his works are considered by some to be the first landscape paintings, in the modern sense. Aside from painting, he was an accomplished engraver and architect. He was a public servant for many years in Regensburg, serving as the town architect and a town councillor. He is said to be responsible for the city walls, among other works.

The painting hangs in the Alt Pinakothek musuem in Munich.

To view other entries into the War Paint Series, follow the link.

Further Reading

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