(b. ca. 1480, Regensburg, d. 1538, Regensburg)

The Beautiful Virgin of Regensburg

Woodcut with five tone blocks, 340 x 245 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Beautiful (or Fair) Virgin of Regensburg was a thirteenth century Byzantine icon of the Virgin and Child, believed to have been painted by St Luke. Many miracles (74 were documented in 1519 and 731 in 1522) were credited to this icon and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from Bavaria, Franconia and Bohemia came to Regensburg.

Albrecht Altdorfer, then member of the city council, designed tokens sold to the pilgrims and at least four different prints of the Beautiful Virgin. The finest, most expensive of these was a chiaroscuro woodcut, which in is first edition was printed with tone blocks in blue, red, green, brown, and yellow-brown. The icon is set within an elaborate Renaissance-style frame. The accompanying prayer reads, 'You are of perfect beauty my love and there is no blemish in you. Hail Mary.' Regensburg coat-of-arms and Altdorfer's monogram appear to either side.