One of the wise virgins (1493) by Albrecht Durer

One of the wise virgins - Albrecht Durer - 1493

Artwork Information

TitleOne of the wise virgins
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About One of the wise virgins

The artwork titled “One of the wise virgins” was created by Albrecht Dürer in 1493. Dürer, who was a pivotal figure in the Northern Renaissance art movement, used the genre of portraiture to depict this subject. This drawing represents a woman recognized as one of the wise virgins from the Biblical Parable of the Ten Virgins.

The artwork is a detailed drawing that displays a figure likely to be a representation of one of the wise virgins from the Christian New Testament. The young woman is featured in profile, facing left, her expression serene and contemplative. She has long, wavy hair that cascades down her back and shoulders, suggesting femininity and grace.

She holds an oil lamp in her raised right hand, which is a symbolic attribute identifying her as one of the wise virgins who kept their lamps filled in readiness for the bridegroom’s arrival, as told in the Gospel of Matthew. Her clothing is finely detailed, with multiple folds, creases, and patterning, which allows observers to appreciate the artist’s skill in rendering texture and form.

The woman’s gaze is downward and slightly towards the viewer, giving a sense of engagement but also introspection. The technique used in the drawing is typical of Dürer’s skillful line work, marked by delicate hatching and precise control of line to create form and shading. The level of detail and the character’s gentle demeanor are reflective of the Northern Renaissance’s focus on precision and individualism, both of which are captured beautifully in this portrait.

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