The Presentation in the Temple


Albrecht Dürer ( German, 1471 - 1528 )

c. 1503–c. 1505
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General Description

This woodcut is part of a larger series of Christian prints by Albrecht Dürer, The Life of the Virgin, which represents key points in Mary’s life and emphasizes the role she played as intercessor between the human and the divine. Here Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus in a temple, following Jewish tradition for the firstborn son. Two birds are to be sacrificed for the ritual purification of the mother. In the composition, the crowded spectacle of the lower half of the print is almost overshadowed by the overwhelming architecture of the temple. With this, Dürer reveals his skill with one-point perspective, an important artistic innovation of the Italian Renaissance where lines converge to a single point on the horizon, which creates a convincing illusion of space.

Excerpt from

Laura Sevelis, DMA label copy, 2015

Web Resources

  • Inside Albrecht Dürer's Studio-Woodcut
    Watch this demonstration and explanation of the woodcut process created by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute for the exhibition, The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer (November 14, 2010- March 13, 2011).