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.


  • Title: Madonna and Child [obverse]
  • Date Created: c. 1496/1499
  • Physical Dimensions: w42.2 x h52.4 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Samuel H. Kress Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on panel
  • Theme: religious, Madonna and Child
  • School: German
  • Provenance: Probably a member of the Haller family, Nuremberg.[1] Possibly Paul von Praun [d. 1616] and descendants, Nuremberg, until at least 1778.[2] Charles à Court Repington [d. 1925], Amington Hall, Warwickshire; sold to Mrs. Phyllis Loder, London.[3] (sale, Christie's, London, 29 April 1932, no. 51, as Bellini); (Vaz Dias.)[4] 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);[5] purchased 1950 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA. [1] From the coat-of-arms at the lower left, there would seem to be little doubt that the Gallery's panel was first owned and probably executed for a member of the Haller family of Nuremberg; see Otto Titan von Hefner and Gustav Adelbert Seyler, die Wappen des bayerischen Adels. J. Siebmacher's grosses Wappenbuch. 34 vols. (Neustadt an der Aisch, 1971) 22: 38, pl. 36, and additional information in NGA manuscript for systematic catalogue number 5 on German painting, entry on Madonna and Child by Dürer. The Hallers were one of Nuremberg's largest and most influential patrician families, but our inability to identify the coat-of-arms at the lower right renders it all but impossible to find a candidate. The direction of the Haller arms is reversed so that it may "respect" the arms of what is presumed to be the wife's family at the lower right; see Gustav A. Seyler, "die Orientirung der Wappen", Geschichte der Heraldik. J. Siebmacher's grosses Wappenbuch. vols. A-G (Neustadt an der Aisch, 1970) A: 454-487, and letter of 16 April 1988 from Walter Angst to John Hand in NGA curatorial file. Anzelewsky raised the possibility that the panel was painted for Wilhelm Haller (d. 1534) whose second marriage to Dorothea Landauer took place in 1497; see Fedja Anzelewsky, Albrecht Dürer Das malerische Werk. (Berlin, 1971), 142. On the other hand, Sally E. Mansfield suggested, in a report in the NGA curatorial file, Hieronymus II Haller (d. 1519) who married Catharina Wolf von Wolfstal in 1419. [2] Christophe Gottlieb von Murr, Beschreibung der vornehmsten Merkwürdigkeiten in des H.R. Reichs freyen Stadt Nürnberg und auf der hohen Schule zu Altdorf (Nuremberg, 1778), 476. "Von einem unberkannten sehr alten Meister. N. 239 Lot eilet mit seinen Töchtern aus Sodom. Man siehet unter andern auch ein Marienbild angebracht. Auf Holz." Listed as belonging to the "Praunisches Museum." The suggestion, which remains unverified, that this refers to the Gallery's painting was first made by Erika Tietze, letter of 4 February 1953 to Fern Rusk Shapley, in curatorial files. In Murr's later catalogue of the collection, however, the painting is given to Joachim Patinir. See Christophe Theophile de Murr, Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Paul de Praun a Nuremberg (Nuremberg, 1797), 31, "Joachim Patenier, 239. Lot et ses deux Filles sortans de Sodome. Les figures sont comme decoupées, sans justes ombres. Sur bois. Albret Durer reçut ce petit Tableau en 1521 à Anvers par le Sécretaire de cette Ville... haut 8 p. larg. 8 p." The Dimensions in pouces, approximately 8x8 inches, do not correspond to those of the Gallery's panel, and a verso is not described, suggesting that a different painting had been assigned the same catalogue number. The Praun collection was dispersed in sales of 1797 and 1802; see Th. Hampe, "Kunstfreunde im alten Nürnberg und ihre Sammlungen," Festschrift des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg zur Feier seines 25 jähr. Bestehens (Nuremberg, 1903), 82-87. Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian (Oxford, 1977), 14, listed Willibald Imhoff the Elder [d.1580] of Nuremberg as a possible owner. Although there are several images of the Madonna or of the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah listed in the Imhoff inverntories, they are not, however, conjoined or described in enough detail to permit identification with the Gallery's picture. By the same token, it is not possible to verify the interesting suggestion in Eisler 1977, 16, n. 46, that the Gallery's panel might be the "Marienbild von Albrecht Dürer" belonging to both the Imhoff and Praun collections. See Joseph Heller, Das Leben und die Werke Albrecht Dürer's (Bamberg, 1827) vol. 2, part 1, 78, no. 1 (Imhoff), 230-231, no. y (Praun). There is also some question as to whether the many works listed as by Dürer in the Imhoff collection were autograph or deliberate falsification; see Moriz Thausing, Dürer, Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Kunst (Leipzig, 1876), 141-144 (Engl. trans. Albert Dürer, His Life and Works. Fred A. Eaton Ed., 2 vols., London 1882, 1: 184-188). [3] This and the preceding are unverified, but are first cited in Max J. Friedländer, "Eine Unbekannte Dürer-Madonna." Pantheon 14 (1934): 322, who states that Loder purchased the painting from à Court Repington, repeated in Rudolf Heinemann, Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz. I. Teil. Verzeichnis der Gemälde. (Lugano-Castagnola, 1937), 47, no. 127, and accepted by later authors. For Charles à Court Repington see the article by J.E. Edmonds, The Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford and London), Supplement 1922-1930, 717-718. That he dealt in pictures on occasion is stated in Mary Repington, Thanks for the Memory (London, 1938), 223, 278. No information has come to light concerning Phyllis Loder. There is no justification for the assertation in Denys Sutton, "Robert Langton Douglas. Part IV," Apollo CX, no. 209 (July, 1979): 205, that the picture was once owned by Robert Langton Douglas. [4] Art prices Current, 11, part A, A154, no. 2445; see also the hand-written annotation in the copy of the sales catalogue in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, as cited by Eisler 1977, 14. A note in the NGA provenance card file suggests that the panel passed from Vaz Dias to the dealer Bottenwieser in Berlin, but it has not been possible to verify this. [5] M. Knoedler & Co. stockbook.
  • Artist: Albrecht Dürer

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