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Monday 13 March 2023

Albrecht Altdorfer’s woodcut, “St Christopher Carrying the Christ Child”, 1513

Albrecht Altdorfer (1482/5–1538)

St Christopher Bearing the Christ Child” (aka. “S. Christophe portant l’enfant Jésus”), 1513. According to the reputable dealer from whom I purchased this woodcut, the impression is from the Baron Hans Albrecht von Derschau edition printed between 1808 and 1816. My understanding of the Derschau editions, however, is that the editions were printed on a greyish paper (see, whereas this impression is on a cream paper. Note that further impressions were taken from the original block now in the Kupferstichkabinett (Berlin) in 1922 and 1963.

Woodcut on cream wove (Japanese?) paper trimmed around the image outline with a narrow margin.

Size: (sheet) 16.9 x 12.5 cm; (image borderline) 16.5 x 12.1 cm.

Dated and signed in the block with the artist’s monogram: (on tree at right) “1513/ [monogram with ligature initials] AA”.

TIB 14(6).53(79) (Robert A Koch 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Early German Masters; Albercht Altdorfer; Monogrammists”, vol. 14, New York, Abaris Books, p. 159, cat. no. 53 [79]); New Hollstein w.56 (Ursula Mielke [comp.] 1997, “The New Hollstein German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts 1400-1700: Albrecht and Erhard Altdorfer”, Rotterdam, Sound and Vision Interactive, p. 130, cat. no. w.56).

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print: (transl.) “Saint Christopher wading through the river with the Christ Child on his back. He bends under the weight of the child and holds on to his staff” (  

The Curator of the British Museum offers the following insights about this print (note that the numbers in brackets reference the BM’s inv. nos.): “Altdorfer has reduced the amount of hatching normally seen in his woodcuts to a minimum, restricting it to the areas of deepest shade, so that the outlines of the woodcut are firmly emphasised. Like Baldung's 'St Christopher' of c.1511 (1895,0122.227), it is conceivable that it was designed with a tone block in mind, so that parts of the sheet were left intentionally blank to receive the coloured areas. But no such colour print is known, and the small size of this woodcut would seem to argue against this idea; colour prints of the period, such as Altdorfer's 'Beautiful Virgin' of Regensburg (1909,0612.3), were usually of larger dimensions. It is possible that Altdorfer was attempting to reproduce the outline effect of a pen drawing or an etching in the medium of woodcut with not altogether successful results, in much the same way as he aspired to mimic the effects of small, finely detailed engravings in his accomplished woodcut series of the 'Fall and Redemption of Man' (1837,0616.225-226; 1845,0809.1191-1192; 1837,0616.229; 1845,0809.1194; 1837,0616.231 and 1845,0809.1196)” (

Condition: a very strong impression trimmed with a narrow margin around the image borderline. Note that I believe (but I could be wrong) that the printer of this impression has infilled/replenished those sections of the originally chipped borderline of the wood plate that are missing. Beyond remnants of mounting and previous collectors’ pencil notations (verso), the sheet is in a near pristine condition.

I am selling this magnificent late impression of a Renaissance period woodcut by one of the founders of landscape painting, Albrecht Altdorfer, for AU$368 (currently US$245.20/EUR228.68/GBP202.48 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this amazing woodcut—note Altdorfer’s inventive use of bold diagonals and the subtlety of his portrayal of the infant Christ advising St Christopher as the saint struggled to wade across a river with increasing weight on his shoulders that he was carrying not only the king of world but also the weight of the world—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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