Madonna and Child with the Monkey

Albrecht Dürer
Madonna and Child with the Monkey
c. 1498

An original Albrecht Dürer engraving.

c. 1498

Original engraving printed in black ink on laid paper bearing a portion of an unidentifuied watermark (words).

Signed in the plate with the artist’s monogram lower center.

A good, clear later 16th century Meder “l” impression, showing strong contrasts throughout, printed after the appearance of the dot in the clouds upper center.

Catalog: Bartsch 42; Dodgson 22; Meder 30.l; Panofsky 149; Hollstein 30; Strauss 21; Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 20.

In 1888, in the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Albert Dürer’s Engravings, Etchings and Dry-Points, and Most of the Woodcuts Executed from his Designs, the first catalogue of Dürer’s works published in America, the Dürer scholar R.S. Koehler, on the occasion of the exhibition of the artist’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, commented on this engraving thusly:

One of the most beautiful and dignified of Dürer’s renderings of this subject, not only as regards the figure of the Virgin and the Child, but also in the breadth and airiness of the landscape. Unfortunately the enjoyment of the design is marred somewhat by the fact that the child is teasing a poor little bird, and holds in its left hand a sucking-bag, which is even more objectionable than the usual apple or pear. The loveliness of the background was early recognized and several Italian engravers availed themselves of it.

In 1897, in an expanded edition of the catalogue published on the occasion of an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Grolier Club, New York, Koehler went on to say of the engraving:

Among the Virgins of Dürer, late as well as early, this is one of the most beautiful and dignified, or it may, perhaps, be quite safe to say, the most beautiful and dignified. It is of the utmost simplicity in handling, although very delicate and skilful without any attempt at variation of texture (a very slight variation, in the under-sleeve of the Madonna’s garment on her left arm, excepted), and therefore without even the faintest suggestion of color. In this respect it is worthy of comparing with “Adam and Eve” and the “Virgin by the Wall.”