Christmas Illustrations by Albrecht Dürerby Albrecht Dürer
According to general agreement, the German painter and printmaker from Nuremberg, Albrecht Dürer, was the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. After establishing a
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This is an online album of vital, vibrant and gorgeous Christmas art by Albrecht Dürer. There is not very much commentary, but above all the visual art speaks for itself.
According to general agreement, the German painter and printmaker from Nuremberg, Albrecht Dürer, was the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. After establishing a reputation for himself as an exquisite printmaker while still in his twenties, he continued to produce a body of artistic output that was prodigious, admired and imitated by artists of his own and succeeding generations.
His images of the Christmas story, gathered from his early years and leading up to a more mature style, vary widely in format from engravings and woodcuts to altarpieces; from oil or Tempera on canvas — or on a series of woods (from pine to poplar) — to pen and ink. Common throughout are background landscapes and architectural features fashioned not from the Holy Land, but from Dürer's own German surroundings, particularly the Nuremberg region. His art combined Biblical stories with the land he saw around him.
Some of the individuals you will find depicted here include the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus; the maternal grandparents, Joachim and Saint Anne; angels, wise men (Magi) and legions of earthly worshippers, priests, saints, cherubim and heavenly hosts; anachronistic appearances by Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, St. John; and symbolic participation by animals (cows, mules, dogs, hares, a monkey, a deer and more); insects (a dragonfly, variously described by some critics as a grasshopper, a praying mantis or a butterfly), birds (a siskin bird and the Holy Spirit as a dove), fruit (in particular a pear reappearing in three images) and other objects (especially crowns and globes). A wealth of symbols point to a coming gospel of love with the Christ child. In several images, Saint Mary is given a crown of stars, the Crown of Heaven as "Queen of the Angels" and the physical vessel that brought God incarnate to earth. The final image of the toddler Jesus with a globe in his hand is doubly significant in his hold of the earth (world globe) in his hands and in his grasp of the great sphere of existence.
Technical Note: Over one third of the images are in color — they render beautifully in optimized gray-scale tones for black-and-white readers, but also exhibit in full color inside color readers -- such as NOOK Color -- and in apps for color-enabled computers and portable or hand-held devices.
The Dürer Christmas Story images include the following:
Mary's Parents, Joachim and Anne, at the Golden Gate (Woodcut, 1504)
The Annunciation (Woodcut, 1511)
Birth of Christ with Two Angels Making Music (Woodcut, 1511)
Birth of Christ (Paumgartner-Altar, after 1503) - Central Image of Triptych -
Birth of Jesus (Engraving, 1504)
Christ in Swaddling Clothes (Engraving, 1520)
Mary Nursing Her Child (Engraving, 1503)
The Circumcision (Oil on panel, 1494-1497)
Holy Family with St. John, Magdalene and Nicodemus (Drypoint print, 1512)
Adoration of the Magi (Oil on wood, 1504)
Adoration of the Magi (Tempera on Pine, 1490-1493) - Left Side Detail -
Adoration of the Magi (Tempera on Pine, 1490-1493) - Right Side Detail -
Mary at the Gate (Engraving, 1520)
Virgin Mary and Child (Oil, 1512)
Holy Family with Dragonfly (Engraving, ca. 1495)
Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (Tempera and Oil on Canvas over Wood, 1519)
Mary and Child with Saint Anne (Engraving, before 1500)
Virgin and Child Seated at the Wall (Engraving, 1514)
Madonna and Child Seated at a Tree (Engraving, 1513)
Madonna and Child (Altar, Oil on Canvas, ca. 1496) - Central Image of Triptych -
Holy Family with Three Hares (Woodcut, 1498)
Holy Family (Oil, 1509)
Mary Crowned by Two Angels (Woodcut, 1518) - Rural Presentation -
Mary Crowned by Two Angels (Woodcut, 1518) - Formal Presentation -
Mary and Child with Pear (Oil on Panel, 1526)
Mary and Child with Pear (Engraving, 1511)
Madonna and Child with Many Animals (Incomplete Color Drawing, 1505)
Mary and Jesus with a Monkey (Engraving, ca. 1498)
Madonna and Child with a Siskin Bird (Oil on Poplar Wood, 1506)
Holy Family on Flight into Egypt (Pen and Ink, 1492-1493)
Flight into Egypt (Colored on Pinewood, 1494-1497)
Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Woodcut, 1504-1505)
Madonna and Child on a Half-Moon Crescent (Engraving, 1514)
Saint Mary with a Crown of Stars Holding Jesus (Engraving, 1516)
Mary's Rose Wreath Ceremony: Queen of the Angels (Colored on Poplar Wood, 1506)
Toddler Jesus Holding a World Globe (Color Media, 1493).
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