Dürer was the leading representative of German Renaissance art, and a key advocate of new ideas in Northern Europe. This panel was executed in Venice, during his second visit to Italy—where he was hailed as a consummate artist—and it has been identified as the painting referred to in a letter from Dürer to his friend Willibald Pirckheimer, the Nuremberg humanist. In its use of half-length figures and the arrangement of heads around a focal point formed by the child's face and hands, the composition clearly echoes contemporary Italian painting. Thus, the German artist skilfully blends the two Renaissance worlds of Northern Europe and Italy. The panel is dated and signed with Dürer's anagram on the slip of paper protruding from the book in the foreground.


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