Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Virgin and Child with a Monkey (B. 42; M., Holl. 30; S.M.S. 20)’, ca. 1498, Christie's Old Masters

Engraving, circa 1498, without watermark, a very fine, early Meder a impression, very dark yet printing with great clarity, as usual printing somewhat thinly in the sky at upper right, with thread margins, trimmed on the platemark in places, in very good condition.

Comparable with the two fine impressions in the British Museum, of which the Felix Slade impression is perhaps the more brilliant, with a brighter paper tone and printed slightly darker in the deepest shadows.

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey is a marvel of mimesis. Everything - the monkey, the wooden planks, the plants, the Virgin's body under her dress, the reflections in the water, the house in the background, the wind in the willows and the clouds - is described with the utmost realism. The extent to which Dürer used his own studies from nature for the composition of his prints is particularly apparent in this engraving. The little island with the house and the willows, the darkening sky and even the tuft of grass on the left are taken directly from a watercolor he painted around 1496, probably in situ, somewhere outside Nuremberg (British Museum; W. 115).

W. Edwards (died 1821), London (L. 2616); Christie's, London, 14-15 May 1822, lot 80 (£1.9s).

André-Jean Hachette (born 1873), Paris (L. 132); presumably his sale, M. Rousseau, Paris, 11 June 1953.

Franz von Hagens (1817-1899), Dresden (L. 1052a); his posthumous sale, C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 2-3 May 1927, lot 152 (Mk 2.000).

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