Highlight from the Print Study Room

This week at the BYU Museum of Art, a selection of prints by Albrecht Dürer are on display in the Print Study Room, from 10 AM – 4 PM, Monday – Friday. Today we explore one of these prints on display.

Albrecht Durer, "Christ Taking Leave of His Mother"

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), “Christ Taking Leave of His Mother (The Life of the Virgin),” c.1507, woodcut, 11 11/16 x 8 3/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate.

Although this scene of Christ taking leave of his mother took place in first century Palestine, Dürer has taken the liberty of dressing Mary’s attendants in contemporary fashionable headdresses. Additionally, a Germanic castle complex occupies the background. Such anachronisms were an intentional move on the part of many Northern Renaissance artists to help viewers connect with these narratives and make them feel familiar to the viewers.

Artists of the Renaissance sought to fool the eye by making a two-dimensional surface appear as a window on the three-dimensional world. They strove to portray real anatomy, real clothing, and place them in real settings, moving away from the other-worldly scenes of the centuries before. The Northern countries were particularly known for the production of textiles, which may explain the overabundance of drapery in Mary’s dress and Christ’s robes.

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