4 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Resource with 3 media

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Madonna by the Wall

Accession Number

Madonna by the Wall

Albrecht Dürer

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
engraving on laid paper

5 13/16 x 3.9 in. (14.76 x 10 cm);19 3/8 x 14 3/8 in. (49.21 x 36.51 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2013
Albrecht Durer
Germany, 1471–1528
Madonna by the Wall
Engraving on paper
Museum purchase, 1958/1.95
In this engraving, a large figure of the Virgin Mary, sumptuously dressed in voluminous garments, dominates the composition. Though she has the attributes of a housewife—a purse and keys hang from her belt—her posture is regal as she sits before the city wall. She gazes lovingly at the Christ child in her lap as he looks out to the viewer. The apple in his left hand is a reference to the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, as well as to his role as the Second Adam and redeemer. On the left, a stream meanders through the quiet landscape leading to a city, identifiable as Nuremberg, visible in the distant left background. Despite the outdoor setting, Durer’s scene preserves a sense of sheltered intimacy similar to Marcantonio Raimondi’s domestic interior (adjacent). Durer’s engraving, however, is more delicate, employing finer lines and a greater combination of stipplings, hatching, and cross-hatchings to define forms and materials and the play of light over their surfaces.

Subject matter
This exquisitely crafted print depicts the Virgin Mary holding the infant Christ on her lap. While she gazes serenely upon her child, he turns to look intensely outward and holds up an apple, an allusion to Adam's fall from grace and Christ's role as the "second Adam" who would redeem humanity from sin. A quiet landscape that includes the walls and towers of Nuremberg stretches into the background.

Physical Description
A young woman, dressed in long robes with her veil drawn over her head, sits next to a wall holding an infant in her lap. She is turned slightly to her right and gazes sweetly upon the child who twists to face the viewer and holds an apple in his left hand. A stream meanders through the landscape of trees and city walls behind them.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

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engraving (printing process)
landscapes (representations)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted