Albrecht Dürer, House by a Pond, c.1496
In about 1496 Albrecht Dürer painted a House by a Pond on the outskirts of Nuremburg, after returning from his first trip to
Dürer re-used this landscape in an engraving, The Madonna with the Monkey (c1498). In his book on Landscape and Western Art, Malcolm Andrews uses these two images by Dürer to discuss the issue of independent landscape painting and the distinction between landscape as setting or subject. The artist’s introduction of religious figures gives the landscape a new mood as well as a new meaning. It also illustrates the usefulness of the sketch, and the fact that it would have been difficult to conceive of a landscape like House by a Pond as a work of art in its own right.
However, the story doesn’t end there. I came across this house once again (when I was looking for images of flight) in Giulio Campagnola’s engraving The Rape of Ganymede (ca. 1500–1505). Here the Neoplatonic symbolism of the subject seems to imbue the house with a strange significance.
But this simple German landscape was not infinitely adaptable. There is a maiolica plate in the