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

Virgin and Child before an Archway

c. 1495
Oil on panel, 48 x 36 cm
Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Mamiano di Traversetolo

Mary and the Christ Child sitting in her lap appear to be right in the foreground of a space which opens to one side onto a bordering interior courtyard. The baby reaches for his mother's hand and their eyes meet. While the Madonna still owes much to the Late Gothic German type, the Christ Child is reminiscent of Italian models. Half length figures such as this early picture of the Madonna were widespread in Italy and the Netherlands. The depiction of the space with the view to the side through an arch is reminiscent of Flemish models, but the figural conception and monumental triangular composition of the group of figures also relates to Italy, in particular to the Madonna paintings by Giovanni Bellini. The picture dates either from Dürer's visit to Venice in 1494-5 or soon afterwards in Nuremberg. It was discovered in the 1950s in the Capuchin monastery of Bagnacavallo, near Ravenna, and this suggests that it was painted in Italy where it has remained.