Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Holy Family with three Hares (B. 102; M., Holl. 212; S.M.S. 108)’, ca. 1497, Christie's Old Masters

Woodcut, circa 1497, watermark Imperial Orb (M. 53), a very fine Meder a impression, printing very evenly and with remarkable clarity, with thread margins, trimmed to the borderline in places, in very good condition.

The Holy Family with three Hares is arguably the most charming of the artist's woodcuts and one of the few idyllic images Dürer created in the medium. Mary, with the Christ Child standing on her knees, is seated in a walled garden, the hortus conclusus, a symbol of her virginity. She is surrounded by flowers and herbs growing around the grassy bench. In the foreground three rabbits play, in the background lies an open valley. Joseph has removed his hat and stands at a respectful distance, gazing in wonder at the child. Jesus however has no eyes for the natural beauty and abundance around him; instead he is leafing through a book, as if reading his own destiny.

About Albrecht Dürer

Considered one of the foremost artists of the Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer’s extensive work in printmaking transformed the categorization of the medium from craft to fine art. Often depicting religious subjects, Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings demonstrated unprecedented technical skill, tonal variation, and compositional sophistication. Dürer theorized extensively on linear perspective and anatomical proportion, concerns that were articulated in a vast body of written work as well as in his paintings and prints. Dürer’s skill earned him the role of court artist for Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, under whom he created a number of paintings and altarpieces. Dürer’s series of self-portraits, created throughout his career, represent some of his most iconic works.

German, 1471-1528, Nuremberg, Germany, based in Nuremberg, Germany