National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna and Child [obverse] Albrecht Dürer (artist)
German, 1471 - 1528
Madonna and Child [obverse], c. 1496/1499
oil on panel
overall: 52.4 x 42.2 cm (20 5/8 x 16 5/8 in.) framed: 66.2 x 55.5 x 7.6 cm (26 1/16 x 21 7/8 x 3 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: German Painting and Sculpture in the Late 1400s and 1500s
Object 5 of 12

Painter, printmaker, and author of books on perspective, anatomy, and fortifications, Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg is one of the most important figures in the history of art. Both the subject and style of this panel demonstrate the complexity of his genius. The Madonna and Child reveals Netherlandish concepts in portraying a corner of a room with a landscape view beyond the window. Mary's sculptural form and the contrast of her clear blue robes against a red drapery show the Italian influence of Giovanni Bellini, whom Dürer met on two trips to Venice. Jesus' squirming posture and the attention to textures are typically German in taste. The coat of arms in the lower left corner is that of the prominent Haller family of Nuremberg, patrons and friends of the artist.

In contrast to the careful finish of the panel's front, the painting on the reverse is rendered with broad, fluid strokes of the brush. Lot and His Daughters is the first known depiction in a panel painting of this story from Genesis. When God destroyed the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He spared the family of the righteous Lot. Lot's wife, who disobeyed and looked back, is shown on the mountain path, having been turned into a pillar of salt. The images on the two sides of this panel might be linked by the idea of salvation.

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