The Life of the Virgin X; The Circumcision of Christ by Albrecht Dürer


The Life of the Virgin X; The Circumcision of Christ

Art work details

Albrecht Dürer
Medium :
Paper, Ink (printing)
Dimensions :
height: 29.8 cms; width: 20.9 cms
Credit Line :
Bequest of Louisa Dudgeon
Religion, Woodcut, Durer

As in previous compositions, Dürer creates visual interest around the central theme. A crowd of figures, some with children, almost jostle around the priest, who leans forward to the Christ child to carry out the circumcision. The cast of characters, high and low within the central group, are in direct contrast to the piety of the Virgin who stands in stylised and prayerful attitude on the far right.

Dürer executed The Life of the Virgin over several years, but initially seems not to have conceived of it as a group. It was probably only after creating a few of the images that he thought of publishing the whole series, comprising 19 plates with the title frontispiece.

The series places the Virgin in settings both earthly and divine, revealing her holy status marked by God, as well as her human qualities and frailties. All the images demonstrate superb cutting and mastery of line and are set within Dürer’s distinctly northern landscape.

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