Simeon’s prophecy “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also” (Luke 2:35) is the basis for this depiction of the Mother of Sorrows. This devotional theme became popular in the late Middle Ages. Meditative reflection on the empathy of the Mother of God for her son is typical of the active culture of lay piety in the pre-Reformation period. Dürer’s mater dolorosa was originally surrounded by a U-shape of individual scenes: The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, from the Circumcision of Christ to the Lamentation (now in Dresden). In that respect, the altarpiece, which was presumably disassembled before 1588, resembled Italian vita retables. The shell form at its upper part—a Renaissance ornament—which was trimmed posthumously, and the face of the Virgin, recalling Giovanni Bellini’s Madonnas, point to southern influences, perhaps in the wake of Dürer’s journey of 1494–95.