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

Madonna with the Pear

Engraving, 158 x 106 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The right hand of the Infant Christ is raised as if in benediction. As early as 1827 Heller observed that "this beautifully executed sheet is not accorded its proper due, for there are prints by Dürer which are inferior to it but held in greater esteem. It fetches only modest prices at auction." The picture can be considered as one of the most beautiful of Dürer's engraved Madonnas. The pear as pacifier, as opposed to the "apple of discord" or temptation, already occurs as an attribute of the Virgin in a sculpture of the Cathedral of Chartres (completed A.D. 1240). The pear appears on no less than five of Dürer's works, perhaps this was inspired by Bellini.