Holy night - Albrecht Altdorfer. 36.2 x 26 cm.
The German artist Albrecht Altdorfer, who belonged to the Danube School of Painting, turned several times in his work to the plot of the Nativity of Christ. The painting Holy Night literally mesmerizes with its execution, realism and a certain halo of romanticism.
We see a dilapidated building - crumbling brickwork exposes bare wooden beams. This building has long been turned into ruins, as evidenced by flowers and herbs that have managed to sprout right on the stones. It was here that the Holy Family found shelter.
Moonlight snatches Joseph, Mary, and the baby from the dark nook of the old building. The glow of the full moon makes all the contours more pronounced, contrasting, which seems that you can consider all the details of the landscape. In general, the main merits of Aldorfer are associated primarily with the landscape. Working in a small space (his paintings are very modest in size), the artist, one might say, invented a minimalist technique of writing. And in the presented work we can notice how meticulously written out every detail - blades of grass, bricks, a wooden skeleton. It seems that we are unfolding some mysterious story, a fairy tale.
The figures of people in the picture are written more sketchily and approximately. Maria folded her arms across her chest. Her appearance, like that of Joseph, is dejected, sad, and at the same time humble. Almost on the ground itself lies a baby surrounded by three angels. The angels from the picture are both those near Jesus, and those that soar above the ruinous building, and the one that can be seen in the bright spot of the cloud below the moon: they are all of the same type and do not have distinct individual features. This is quite characteristic of the era in which Altdorfer worked. Personally celestial heroes in painting will be a little later.
However, Aldorfer became an innovator in another - the author boldly uses contrasting color combinations, thereby balancing the composition with bright spots: the moon, a yellow-white cloud under the month, the angels in the sky and the infant Jesus himself.
To the left of the main characters is a barely distinguishable figure of a lamb (or rather the head) and this is a fairly well-known Christian symbol. Allegorically, the presence of this animal in the picture can be expressed in the following words: God takes care of his flock, like an attentive shepherd about sheep. The lamb in the stall is yet another proof of the great destiny of the newly born baby Jesus.