Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon with a Starry Crown and Scepter

engraving of Madonna wearing crown and holding Child

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon with a Starry Crown and Scepter, dated 1516
Engraving
4 9/16 x 2 15/16 in. (11.6 x 7.4 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.39)

 

Moroni derived the sacred figures in the Gentleman in Contemplation before the Madonna and Child from this popular devotional print, one of four versions produced by Dürer. Why Moroni chose this model is unknown; perhaps the portrait’s sitter owned an impression of it. Transforming Dürer’s image into a more austere yet more intimate depiction of the mother and child, Moroni eliminated the Virgin’s ornate crown and scepter, presenting instead the Christ Child clutching her finger. As in the print, he also holds an apple, symbol of the fall of humankind and thus of Christ’s role as the redeemer of sin.