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The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Unknownc. 1475/80

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This group was made by a pupil of Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden. The compositional conception, which Albrecht Dürer was to deploy in a drawing and a woodcut as late as 1511, was probably the master’s. St. Anne is seen reverently taking the infant Christ, who is stepping across to her from the lap of the seated Mary. A mark of distinction is conferred on St. Anne: as the mother of the one who gave birth to God she too has played a part in Christ’s work of redemption. It is a work of considerable subtlety. Until its acquisition it was at Trimbach near Weissenburg in Alsace, and comes at the beginning of propagation of the motif on a massive scale, mainly in the Netherlands and the Lower Rhine. The hands of St. Anne and the lower arms of the Christ Child were destroyed in the Second World War.

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