Virgin and Child with Saint Anne

Artist: Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)

Date: probably 1519

Medium: Oil on linden

Dimensions: 23 5/8 x 19 5/8 in. (60 x 49.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.633


This haunting devotional painting depicts Saint Anne, who was particularly venerated in Germany, with the Virgin and the Child. The motif of the sleeping infant, foreshadowing Christ’s death, was probably inspired by Giovanni Bellini, whose work Dürer admired during his sojourn in Venice. Anne’s hand on her daughter's shoulder takes on a consolatory meaning, and her distant gaze suggests a premonition of Christ's Passion. The model for Anne was Dürer's wife, Agnes, studied in a preparatory drawing signed and dated 1519 (Albertina, Vienna). Although this panel’s date and monogram were added later, the picture was likely painted in that year.