The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin (c. 1496-97) by Albrecht Durer

The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin - Albrecht Durer - c. 1496-97

Artwork Information

TitleThe Seven Sorrows of the Virgin
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Datec. 1496-97
MediumOil on panel
Current LocationAlte Pinakothek, MunichSide panels 63 x 46 cmGemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden
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About The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin

Albrecht Dürer’s Seven Sorrows Polyptych is an oil on panel altarpiece that consists of seven panels and features Mary as the Mother of Sorrows. The central picture is currently housed at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, while the other panels are exhibited at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister of Dresden. The altarpiece was created by Dürer after he settled in Nuremberg as a master, with speculation that it might have been commissioned by Frederick the Wise for his palace church at Wittenberg.

The central panel was severely damaged when acid was thrown at it in 1988, but artistic experts undertook its restoration that lasted ten years. Today, this piece stands as a significant masterpiece depicting Mary’s grief and intense emotions throughout her life. This artwork is notable both from an art history perspective and because of its subject matter: all seven sorrows are shown through intensely detailed and lifelike figures.

Dürer’s artistry is evident throughout this altarpiece with his skills shining forth within each panel concerning both form and composition. His technique uses precise observation combined with delicate shading and techniques that breathe life into the scene while still maintaining religious subtext. The Seven Sorrows Polyptych remains a testament to Dürer’s unrivaled mastery over light, shadow, mood, composition as well to his historical significance for german artists.

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