DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

Feast of the Rose Garlands (detail)

Oil on poplar panel
Národní Galerie, Prague

St Dominic is clearly the saint whom we see to the left of the Madonna, since the institution of the rosary is attributed to him. For all the others, many names have been proposed. However, the identifications are still uncertain. The Madonna is enthroned in a field, beneath a green canopy that cherubs hold up with ribbons. Other cherubs on little clouds hold a crown of precious stones suspended above her head. At her feet kneel the pope and the emperor, on the left and right, having placed before themselves a tiara and a crown, respectively. And while the Madonna places a garland of roses on the head of the emperor, the Blessed Child places an identical one over the head of the pontifice. St Dominic, in turn, crowns a bishop. Behind the pope and the emperor, the patrons are arranged symmetrically, some of whom, in both parts of the background, divert their gaze from the Madonna.

In the crowd of believers Dürer combined real portraits which he prepared in studies with fictitious ones. In the Feast of the Rose Garlands, Dürer created his first single panel altar, though its compositional structure is like a triptych.

Other Bellinian cherubs descend upon them with rose garlands; the setting of the work is typically Venetian. The rigidly pyramidal composition of the painting is not Venetian. This painting has indicated that Dürer was one to have been of the first who created such composition.