Studies on a great “picture of the Virgin” Madonna with child, ten saints and angels (1521) by Albrecht Durer

Studies on a great

Artwork Information

TitleStudies on a great "picture of the Virgin" Madonna with child, ten saints and angels
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMusee Bonnat, Bayonne, France

About Studies on a great "picture of the Virgin" Madonna with child, ten saints and angels

The artwork “Studies on a great ‘picture of the Virgin’ Madonna with child, ten saints and angels” by Albrecht Dürer, dates back to 1521 and is a part of the Northern Renaissance art movement. This drawing is categorized as a sketch and study and is currently housed in the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, France. It is part of a series titled “Picture of the Virgin.”

The sketch features a central figure of the Virgin Mary seated and holding the Christ Child on her lap, which is a common motif in Christian art depicting the Madonna and Child. Surrounding the central figures are multiple figures that are assumed to be saints and angels based on their attributes and positioning in the composition, though there are no distinct halos or other typical markers of sanctity that are usually presented in finished works. The drawing showcases a wealth of detail and appears to serve as a preparatory study, illustrating Dürer’s thought process and preliminary layout for a larger, more detailed artwork.

Dürer’s work here demonstrates his skill in composition and his thoughtful arrangement of figures in the space. Angels are depicted in various poses, while saints stand or sit with different objects that could identify them, but without color or full detail, it’s not easy to pinpoint who they are. Beneath the central figures is an assortment of objects strewn on the ground, further adding to the narrative of the scene. This study might have been used to refine the spatial relationships and gestures of the figures before Dürer proceeded to a final painting or engraving.

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