the Virgin Mary, seated, holds the standing Christ child on her lap, with her right hand steadying the child and her left hand draped over a book; the child's feet are perched on a pillow and he offers the blessing sign with his right hand--pointer and middle finger extended and thumb pointing upward; the background offers a country landscape with sparse structures and a lone figure

Virgin and Child, 1518–1525

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2016 Accession Highlight

Virgin and Child was clearly meant to be seen from a distance. The large, uncluttered composition allows the flowing lines to stand out. Its creator, Sebald Beham, meant it for public devotion. He used simple patterns of lines to make the cutting of the printing block quicker and cheaper, an important consideration for a work of art intended for a middle-class market. Most examples were probably affixed to walls and have long since perished from exposure to weather, insects, and vandalism. Of the hundreds printed, only about a dozen survive.

Virgin and Child is an outstanding addition to our growing collection of works by Beham, one of the finest artists to emerge from Dürer’s wake in 16th-century Nuremberg.

the Virgin Mary, seated, holds the standing Christ child on her lap, with her right hand steadying the child and her left hand draped over a book; the child's feet are perched on a pillow and he offers the blessing sign with his right hand--pointer and middle finger extended and thumb pointing upward; the background offers a country landscape with sparse structures and a lone figure