Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Virgin and Child with a Pear (B. 41; M., Holl. 33; S.M.S. 63)’, 1511, Christie's Old Masters

Engraving, 1511, without watermark, a very fine, rich and black Meder a impression, with thread margins, some very pale, unobtrusive stains and foxing, otherwise in very good condition.

The present work is based on a preparatory drawing in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett. It is very close to the original, including the tree, the opulent drapery, and the two towers, which are a symbol of the Virgin. But it is most interesting to see that Dürer had already thought about how to depict the light in the engraving and, with a few lines, had indicated a dark sky and deep shadows over the faces of the Madonna and Child. The entire print is surprisingly dark for this rather idyllic subject, with the figures and landscape under a heavy sky illuminated by the sharp, cold light of a full moon. Dürer was to employ this effect again and develop it further the following year in the Engraved Passion (lot 36).

Earl of Northwick (1770-1859), Northwick Park and Cheltenham (L.2709a); his sale, C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, 22-24 May 1933, lot 323 (Mk 1.000).

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