This scene is painted on the reverse side of Dürer's Madonna and Child. The story of Lot and his daughters comes from the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. In the foreground, Lot and his two children are portrayed fleeing from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which erupt in blinding explosions of fire in the background. Lot's wife is visible on the path at the upper left in the middle distance. She has been turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying the divine command by looking back on the scene of retribution.
This scene was important for the moral lesson it taught. Like the story of Noah and the flood, that of Lot and the desolation of Sodom and Gomorrah was an allegory demonstrating the power of God to save the righteous.
Since the combination of the story of Lot with the depiction of the Virgin and Child is extremely unusual, the exact relation of the two images remains unclear. However, they could be understood as two examples of the value of a just life and of the pervasive grace of God, especially if the Madonna and Child on the obverse was intended as a private devotional image.
center left on rock in monogram: AD
Probably a member of the Haller family, Nuremberg. Possibly Paul von Praun [d. 1616] and descendants, Nuremberg, until at least 1778. Charles à Court Repington [d. 1925], Amington Hall, Warwickshire; sold to Mrs. Phyllis Loder, London. (sale, Christie's, London, 29 April 1932, no. 51, as Bellini); (Vaz Dias.) Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza [1875-1947], Villa Favorita, Lugano-Castagnola, by 1934. (Pinakos, Inc. [Rudolf Heinemann] on consignment to M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1950); purchased 1950 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.
- 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 Renacimiento, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2007-2008, no. 105, repro.
- The Early Dürer, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2012, no. 53, repro.
Lot and His Daughters is quite different from the obverse in both its manner of execution and state of preservation. A ground or preparation layer is either not present or not readily discernible; it is possible that there is a layer of glue or glue with a very small admixture of calcium carbonate that has become transparent. There is no underdrawing visible either to the naked eye or under infrared reflectography. The monogram rendered in brown paint is not visible under infrared reflectography, whereas the dark lines defining the surrounding rock formations are visible, indicating the presence of black pigment in the latter. If the monogram were very recent, it is likely that it would be made visible with infrared reflectography. Numerous small losses are scattered throughout and reflect worm damage, abrasion, impacts to the surface, and flaking due to movement of the unprimed wood. The joins of the panel have opened in the past and have visible inpainting.
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- Heinemann, Rudolf. Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz. 3 vols. Lugano-Castagnola, 1937: 1:47, no. 127, 2:pl. 31.
- Tietze, Hans, and Erika Tietze-Conrat. Kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke Albrecht Dürers. 3 vols. Basel and Leipzig, 1937: 2:15-16, no. 130b, repro. 173.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1945-1951. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: 190 under no. 84, 192, repro. 193.
- Walker, John. "Your National Gallery of Art After 10 Years." National Geographic Magazine 101 no. 1 (January 1952): 74, 94, repro.
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- Broadley Hugh T. German Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 9 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 22-23, color repro.
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- Musper, Heinrich Theodor. Albrecht Dürer. Translated by Robert Eric Wolf. New York, : 24, 74, repro. 75.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 38, repro.
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- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue (National Gallery of Art). Washington, 1975: 116-117, repro.
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- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 150-151, no. 163, repro.
- Mende, Matthias. Albrecht Dürer: Das Frühwerk bis 1500. Herrsching, 1976: 69, fig. 31
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- Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA: One Hundred Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. St. Louis, 1997: 58-59, color repro.
- Dunkerton, Jill. "North and South: Painting Techniques in Venice." In Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Dürer and Titian. Exh. cat. Palazzo Grassi, 1999. Venice, 1999: 101.
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- Wolf, Norbert. Dürer. Munich, 2010: 238, no. 14, repro.
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- Foister, Susan and Peter van den Brink, ed. Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artistt. Exh. cat. National Gallery London 2021: no. 8; 21, 292.