Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Battle of Alexander at Issus,,, The Battle of Alexander at Issus (German: Alexanderschlacht) is a 1529 oil painting by the German artistAlbrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480–1538), a pioneer of landscape art and a founding member of the Danube school. It portrays the 333 BC Battle of Issus, in which Alexander the Great secured a decisive victory over Darius III of Persia and gained crucial leverage in his campaign against the Persian Empire. Sony PCG-61211M battery The painting is widely regarded as Altdorfer's masterpiece, and exemplifies his affinity for scenes of monumental grandeur. Duke William IV of Bavaria commissioned The Battle of Alexander at Issus in 1528 as part of a set of historical pieces that was to hang in his Munich residence. Sony PCG-71213M battery Modern commentators suggest that the painting, through its abundant use of anachronism, was intended to liken Alexander's heroic victory at Issus to the contemporary European conflict with the Ottoman Empire. In particular, the defeat of Suleiman the Magnificent at the Siege of Vienna may have been an inspiration for Altdorfer. Sony PCG-71311M battery A religious undercurrent is detectable, especially in the extraordinary sky; this was probably inspired by the prophecies of Daniel and contemporary concern within the Church about an impending apocalypse. The Battle of Alexander at Issus and four others that were part of William's initial set are in the Alte Pinakothek art museum in Munich. Sony PCG-71212M battery Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 BC), best known as Alexander the Great, was an Ancient Greek king of Macedon who reigned from 336 BC until his death. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians and strategists in history,[1]and is presumed undefeated in battle.[2][3] Sony PCG-71313M battery Renowned for his military leadership and charisma, he always led his armies personally and took to the front ranks of battle.[4][5] By conquering the Persian Empire and unifying Greece, Egypt andBabylon, he forged the largest empire of the ancient world[6] and effected the spread of Hellenism throughout Europe and Northern Africa.[7] Sony VAIO PCG-31111M battery Alexander embarked on his expedition to conquer the Persian Empire in the spring of 334 BC,[8] having pacified the warring Greek states and consolidated his military might.[9] During the first months of the Macedonian passage into Persian Asia Minor, Darius III – king of Persia – largely ignored the presence of Alexander's 40,000 men. Sony VAIO PCG-31112M battery The Battle of the Granicus, fought in May,[8] was Persia's first major effort to confront the invaders, but resulted in an easy victory for Alexander. Over the next year, Alexander took most of western and coastal Asia Minor by forcing the capitulation of the satrapies in his path.[10] He continued inland, travelling northeast through Phyrgia before turning southeast toward Cilicia. Sony VAIO PCG-31113M battery After passing the Cilician Gates in October, Alexander was delayed by fever in Tarsus.[11] Darius meanwhile mustered an army of up to 100,000 (some ancient sources posit exaggerated figures of over 600,000)[12] and personally directed it over the eastern slopes of the Amanus Mountains. Sony VAIO PCG-31114M battery In early November, as Alexander proceeded about the Gulf of Issus from Mallus via Issus, the two armies inadvertently passed one another on opposite sides of the mountains.[13] This was decidedly to Darius' advantage: now at the rear of Alexander, he was able to prevent retreat and block the supply lines Alexander had established at Issus.[14] Sony VAIO PCG-31111V battery It was not until Alexander had encamped at Myriandrus, a seaport on the southeastern shores of the Gulf of İskenderun, that he learned of the Persian position. He immediately retraced his route to the Pinarus River, just south of Issus, to find Darius' force assembled along the northern bank.[13] The Battle of Issus ensued. Sony VAIO PCG-31112V battery Darius' initial response was defensive: he immediately stockaded the river bank with stakes to impede the enemy's crossing. A core vanguard of traitorous Greek mercenaries and Persian royal guard was established; as was usual for Persian kings, Darius positioned himself in the centre of this vanguard, in order that he might effectively dispatch commands to any part of his large army.[15] Sony VAIO PCG-31113V battery A group of Persian light infantry was soon sent to the foothills, as it was suspected that Alexander would make an approach from the right, away from the coast. A mass of cavalry commanded by Nabarsanes occupied the Persian right.[16] Alexander made a cautious and slow advance, intending to base his strategy on the structure of the Persian force. Sony VAIO PCG-31114V battery He led a flank of his Companion cavalry on the right, while the Thessalian cavalry were dispatched to the left, as a counter to Nabarsanes' mounted unit.[17] Aware of the importance of the foothills to his right, Alexander sent a band of light infantry, archers, and cavalry to displace the defence Darius had stationed there. Sony VAIO PCG-GRS100 battery The enterprise was successful – those Persians not killed were forced to seek refuge higher in the mountains.[17][18] When within missile range of the enemy, Alexander gave the order to charge.[17][19] He spearheaded the assault of his heavily armed Companion cavalry, who quickly made deep cuts into the Persian left flank. Sony VAIO PCG-41111M battery The Macedonian left wing, commanded by Parmenion,[18] was meanwhile driven back by Nabarsanes' large cavalry. The Macedonians' centralphalanx crossed the river and clashed with the renegade Greek mercenaries who fronted Darius' vanguard. As the Companion cavalry pushed further into the Persian left, Sony VAIO PCG-41112M battery the danger arose that Darius would exploit the gap that had formed between Alexander and the rest of his army. When he was satisfied that the left wing was crippled and no longer a threat, Alexander remedied the situation by moving the Companions to assault the Persian centre in the flank. Unable to handle the added pressure, Sony VAIO PCG-41111V battery the Persian vanguard was forced to withdraw from the river bank, allowing the Macedonian phalanx to continue their advance and lifting the pressure on Parmenion's left wing.[19] Upon realising that the onslaught of Alexander's Companion cavalry was unstoppable, Darius and his army fled. Sony VAIO PCG-NV100 battery Many were killed in the rush, trampled by those who fled with them or collapsed with their horses.[20] Some escaped to regions as remote as Egypt, and others reunited with Darius in the north.[21] The onset of darkness ended the chase after approximately 20 km (12 mi); Alexander then recalled his army and set about burying the dead. Sony VAIO PCG-V505 battery Darius' family were left behind in the Persian camp; it is reported that Alexander treated them well and reassured them of Darius' safety.[21][22] Darius' royal chariot was found discarded in a ditch, as were his bow and shield.[21] Ancient sources present disparate casualty figures for the Battle of Issus. Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A battery Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus approximate 100,000 Persian deaths, in contrast with the 450 Macedonian deaths reported by Quintus Curtius Rufus.[23] In any case, it is probable that more Persians were killed as they fled than in battle;[24]Ptolemy I, who served with Alexander during the battle, recounts how the Macedonians crossed a ravine on the bodies of their enemies during the pursuit. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M battery The Macedonian conquest of Persia continued until 330 BC, when Darius was killed and Alexander took his title as king.[26] Alexander died in 323 BC, having recently returned from campaigning in the Indian subcontinent. The cause of death remains a subject of debate. Albrecht Altdorfer is regarded as one of the founders of Western landscape art.[29] Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M battery He was a painter, etcher, architect, andengraver, and the leader of the Danube school of German art. As evidenced by such paintings as Saint George and the Dragon(1510) and Allegory (1531), much of Altdorfer's work is characterised by an attachment to sprawling landscapes that dwarf the figures within them;[30] Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M battery The Battle of Alexander at Issus epitomises this facet of his style. With reference to St George and the Dragon in particular, art historian Mark W. Roskill comments that "The accessory material of landscape [in Altdorfer's work] is played with and ornamentally elaborated so that it reverberates with the sense of a sequestered and inhospitable environment".[31] Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M battery Inspired by his travels around the Austrian Alps and the Danube River,[32] Altdorfer painted a number of landscapes that contain no figures at all, including Landscape with a Footbridge (c. 1516) and Danube Landscape near Regensburg (c. 1522–25). These were the first "pure" landscapes since antiquity.[33] Sony VAIO PCG-8141M battery Most of Altdorfer's landscapes were made with a vertical format, in contrast with the modern conception of the genre. The horizontal landscape was an innovation of Altdorfer's Flemish contemporary Joachim Patinir and his followers. Altdorfer also produced a great deal of religious artwork, in reflection of his devout Catholicism. SONY PCG-7113M battery His most frequent subjects were the Virgin Mary and the life and crucifixion of Christ. As in The Battle of Alexander at Issus, these paintings often feature settings of great majesty and use the sky to convey symbolic meaning. This meaning is not uniform throughout Altdorfer's corpus – for example, the visage of the setting sun connotes loss and tragedy in Agony in the Garden, SONY PCG-7112M battery but serves as "the emblem of power and glory" in The Battle of Alexander at Issus.[35] Larry Silver of The Art Bulletin explains that The Battle of Alexander at Issus is both similar to and in direct contrast with Altdorfer's previous work: "Instead of the peaceful landscape of retreat for Christian events or holy figures, SONY PCG-8Z3M battery this panel offers just the opposite: a battleground for one of ancient history's principal epoch-making encounters ... Yet despite its global or cosmic dimensions, the Battle of Issus still looks like Altdorfer's earlier, contemplative liminal landscapes of retreat, complete with craggy peaks, bodies of water, and distant castles."[36] Sony VAIO PCG-8161M battery Although the Battle of Alexander is atypical of Altdorfer in its size and in that it depicts war, his Triumphal Procession – a 1512–16 illuminated manuscript commissioned by Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire – has been described as a conceptual antecedent.[37] The Procession was produced in parallel with the Triumph of Maximilian, Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M battery a series of 137 woodcutscollaboratively executed by Altdorfer, Hans Springinklee, Albrecht Dürer, Leonhard Beck and Hans Schäufelein. Altdorfer's most significant contemporary influence was Matthias Grünewald (c. 1470–1528). Art historian Horst W. Jansonremarked that their paintings "show the same 'unruly' imagination".[39] SONY PCG-7122M battery Elements of The Battle of Alexander at Issus – particularly the sky – have been compared to Grünewald's Heavenly Host above the Virgin and Child, which forms part of his masterpiece, the Isenheim Altarpiece. Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), also associated with the Danube school, was another important influence for Altdorfer. SONY PCG-7121M battery According to Roskill, works by Cranach from about 1500 "give a prominent role to landscape settings, using them as mood-enhancing backgrounds for portraits, and for images of hermits and visionary saints", and seem to play a "preparatory role" for the onset of pure landscape.[40] Altdorfer owed much of his style, particularly in his religious artwork, to Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528);[41] SONY VAIO PCG-7192M battery Larry Silver writes that Altdorfer's "use of convincing German landscapes in combination with celestial phenomena for his religious narrative" is "firmly tied" to a tradition "modeled by Albrecht Dürer."[42] William IV, Duke of Bavaria commissioned The Battle of Alexander at Issus in 1528.[43] Altdorfer was approximately 50 at the time, and was living in the Free Imperial City of Regensburg.[44] SONY VAIO PCG-7194M battery As a result of over a decade of involvement with the Regensburg city council, Altdorfer was offered the position of Burgomaster on 18 September 1528. He declined; the council annals reported his reasoning as such: "He much desires to execute a special work in Bavaria for my Serene Highness and gracious Lord, Duke [William]."[44] SONY VAIO PCG-7195M battery

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