Albrecht Durer: A Wise Virgin

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
A Wise Virgin
1493
Pen and brown ink on paper
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

Here Dürer depicts one of the Wise Virgins described in the Gospel of Matthew (25:1–13). The subject matter and sophisticated hatching may reference Martin Schongauer's (c. 1435/50–1491) prints illustrating the same biblical parable. These shading techniques may also stem from Dürer's training in the workshop of Michael Wolgemut (1434/7–1519), whose drawings employed similar tonal effects. Dürer's image is charming, yet the clumsily rendered arms and awkwardly twisted torso are visual reminders of the young artist's initial struggles with foreshortening and anatomy.