Heller Altarpiece (c.1507 – c.1509) by Albrecht Durer

Heller Altarpiece - Albrecht Durer - c.1507 - c.1509

Artwork Information

TitleHeller Altarpiece
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Datec.1507 - c.1509
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About Heller Altarpiece

The “Heller Altarpiece” is a religious painting created by Albrecht Dürer between approximately 1507 and 1509. This Northern Renaissance artwork is composed of oil on wood panels. The altarpiece features a central theme of the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin, surrounded by various scenes that involve saints and figures of Christian faith.

The central panel of the painting depicts the Virgin Mary being crowned by Christ in the presence of God the Father, above a choir of angels. Mary is positioned centrally and clothed in dark blue, kneeling in an open space of clouds. To her left and right, God and Christ, both draped in red garments, place a crown upon her head.

Flanking the central panel are various saints and patron donors. On the left panel, the foreground shows Saint Jacob the Elder and Saint Sybilla with two kneeling donor figures. In the background, a scene of martyrdom unfolds against a landscape. Similarly, the right panel includes Saint John the Baptist and Saint Lawrence with a pair of donors bowing in reverence, amidst a backdrop that includes a depiction of martyrdom. Each side panel’s lower section contains additional figures: on the left, a woman in prayer with a shield bearing heraldic symbols, and on the right, an old man in a clerical robe. The outer sections are not visible in this view but traditionally would show related thematic imagery when the wings are closed.

In summary, the Heller Altarpiece is a complex and intricate piece that showcases Dürer’s expertise in religious iconography typical of the Northern Renaissance, emphasizing theological symbolism and attention to detail. Each figure and scene has been rendered carefully to convey a narrative and devotional content, reflective of the era’s artistic and spiritual interests.

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