Mary, with long wavy hair wearing a headscarf, lying in canopy bed at center, holding a candle, also held by a man on left; other standing, seated and kneeling figures at left and right--some with hands folded in prayer

The Death of the Virgin, 1510

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The Death of the Virgin is a meticulously printed pre-publication impression taken from a woodblock prepared for Albrecht Dürer’s elegant illustrated book, "The Life of the Virgin." Twelve apostles attend Mary on her deathbed. Some pray; some read. One holds a censer, another a tall staff topped with a cross. John the Evangelist removes the burning taper from Mary's hand as she peacefully falls still. Peter, wearing a miter symbolic of his new role as leader of the fledgling church, blesses her with an aspergillum which has been charged in the pot of holy water held by his assistant. Light enters the room from the right, adding to the perspectival space and giving the figures full dimension. We are in a sacred place; so, the men have removed their shoes—Dürer gives us a fragmentary view of one discarded piece of footwear shoved beneath the bed. With this woodcut and others of similarly high quality, Dürer fused the intricacy of German art with the structure and airiness then flourishing in Italian art.

Details
Title
The Death of the Virgin
Artist Life
1471–1528
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2013.24
Provenance
(Colnaghi, London [C. 26121]). (Christmas gift to "Sylvia," 1964). Private Collection, Cincinnati; Thomas French Fine Art, 2012; sold to MIA, 2013
Catalogue Raisonne
Meder 205 Proof before text (b)
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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Mary, with long wavy hair wearing a headscarf, lying in canopy bed at center, holding a candle, also held by a man on left; other standing, seated and kneeling figures at left and right--some with hands folded in prayer