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Dürer was born in Nuremberg and received a typical medieval training from his goldsmith father and from the Nuremberg painter Michael Wolgemut. Yet he was one of the major transmitters of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance to artists in the North. This was the result of direct experience acquired on two trips to Italy, as well as of his own diligent study of ideal figural proportions and perspective.

Dürer traveled to Venice in 1494/1495 and 1505/1507. While there, he became well acquainted with Giovanni Bellini, whose influence is evident in the Madonna and Child. The athletic Christ Child, the stable pyramid of the Virgin's form, the strong, and almost sculptural modeling of the figures, and the contrast of clear blue and red setting off Mary's shape all recall Bellini's treatment of the same subject.

On the other hand, Mary's placement in the corner of a room with a window open on a distant view indicates Dürer's familiarity with Netherlandish devotional images. The minute treatment of the Alpine landscape and the careful delineation of all textures and surfaces equally remind one of Dürer's persistent fascination with the North's tradition of visual exactitude.

The Madonna and Child probably was intended for private devotion. The diminutive coat–of–arms in the lower corners have been identified as those of the Hallery family (left) and Koberger (right), both prominent in Nuremberg.  Further, it has been suggested that the painting was commissioned by Wolf III Haller who married Ursula Koberger in 1491.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, which is available as a free PDF


lower left coat-of-arms: (Gules, a chapé emanating from the dexter flank argent, charged with a dexter gyron sable); crest: (out of a wreath of the liveries the torso of an armless Moorish woman proper, habited gules, crined and braided sable, earringed Or, wearing a "flying head band" (fliegende Binde) twisted gules and argent); mantling: (gules, lined argent); lower right coat-of-arms: (rendered heraldically indescribable by later additions)


Probably a member of the Haller family, Nuremberg.[1] Possibly Paul von Praun [d. 1616] and descendants, Nuremberg, until at least 1778.[2] Charles à Court Repington [d. 1925], Amington Hall, Warwickshire; sold to Mrs. Phyllis Loder, London.[3] (sale, Christie's, London, 29 April 1932, no. 51, as Bellini); (Vaz Dias.)[4] Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza [1875-1947], Villa Favorita, Lugano-Castagnola, by 1934. (Pinakos, Inc. [Rudolf Heinemann], New York); on consignment 1950 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York); purchased 23 October 1950 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[5] gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

Exhibition History

Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg 1300-1550, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 1986, no. 109 (shown only in New York).
Albrecht Dürer, Albertina, Vienna, 2003, no. 29, repro.
Dürer e l'Italia, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 2007, no. IV.20, repro.
Durero y Cranach: Arte y Humanismo en la Alemania del Renacimento, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2007-2008, no. 31, repro.
The Early Dürer, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2012, no. 53, repro.

Technical Summary

Examination of the panel and the x-radiograph show that the support is comprised of four boards with vertically oriented grain. Unsmoothed adz marks are visible on the reverse, indicating that the panel was thinned and smoothed after joining. The edges are obscured by the picture frame, although it is possible to see that the bottom edge has been cut. Thin strips of wood are nailed to each picture edge.

Underdrawing in what appears to be a liquid material, possibly iron gall ink, can be seen in the Child's body with the unaided eye. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals diagonally hatched underdrawing in the face of the Madonna, and elsewhere a few contour lines. The Child's left foot was changed slightly from its underdrawn position. The coat of arms at the lower right has been heavily altered. The original arms are painted out, and both the x-radiograph and infrared reflectogram show only a single dark form against a light background. On the surface is a design of vertical and diagonal bars and three balls. Optical microscopy of the blue paint in this design disclosed synthetic ultramarine, a pigment that was not commercially produced until around 1828.[1] The Madonna and Child is in excellent condition. There is a scratch and a retouched loss in the window at the left. There is light abrasion in the flesh tones and in the glazes of the greens. The blue paint of the Madonna's robe is deeply cracked and has accumulated dark accretions in the thickest areas.

[1] Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout, Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia (rev. ed., New York, 1966), 163.


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Delaney, John K., E. Melanie Gifford, Lisha D. Glinsman, John Oliver Hand, and Catherine Metzger. "Common Painting and Diligent Fiddling: Technical Analysis for Insight into the Divergent Styles of Dürer's 'Madonna and Child'/'Lot and his Daughters'. In The Challenge of the Object / Die Herausforderung des Objekts. 33rd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art. Nuremberg, 2013: 1036-1040, fig. 1.
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