Albrecht Dürer

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey by Albrecht Dürer

Artwork Detail

Albrecht Dürer’s "Virgin and Child with a Monkey" is one of the German artist’s most famous images. With her infant son in her lap, and a tethered monkey at her feet, the Virgin is seated on a rustic wooden fence before an expansive landscape. To the right of the central group, Dürer included a curious half-timbered (Fachwerk) building which he had observed in the vicinity of his native Nuremberg and of which a superb watercolour exists in the British Museum, London. The detailed representation of that humble building mirrors the artist’s interest in accurately representing different forms and textures elsewhere in this print. The folds in the dress of the Virgin, the smooth skin of the infant Christ child, the fur of the monkey and the rough texture of the wood are all carefully observed and recorded through carefully varied marks made with the engraver’s burin. "Virgin and Child with a Monkey" marks a shift in Dürer’s work that was brought on by his first visit to Italy earlier in the decade. His newfound awareness of the classicising tendencies of the Italian Renaissance were given expression in this print when the artist replaced his earlier Gothic and highly stylised representations of draperies with the simpler more natural form found in the Virgin’s dress seen here.

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey
Albrecht Dürer
Production date
circa 1498
191 x 122 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2013
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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