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 left corner identifies the patron as a member of the wealthy Nuremberg mercantile family of Haller von Hallerstein.