Madonna and Child (Haller Madonna) Albrecht Durer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This famous depiction of the Madonna and Child was produced by Albrecht Durer somewhere between the years of 1496-1499 and is sometimes known today as the Haller Madonna. The artwork can be found in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA.

The Madonna stands behind a low table whilst holding the child around the waist. He hovers just above an attractive green cushion and the rest of the room is decorated in marble. Behind them is a bright red curtain which provides a striking contrast against the blue outfit worn by the mother. There are several items placed on the table in front of us which no doubt serve a variety of symbolic purposes. There is then an open window through which the artist displays his handling of landscape art, with a small hill leading up to a tower in the far distance. A bright sky stands behind all else and also allows light to flood in from the back of this painting. There are various technical elements to this painting which mark Durer out as an innovator when placed within the context of art from around this period, and in the years just before.

The timing of this painting places it shortly after the artist's return from Venice and whilst there on his first trip he would study the work of Giovanni Bellini, whose influence can be found within this Madonna and Child as well as a variety of other artworks. Durer then returned to Venice in 1505/1507 in order to continue to learn from some of these great Italian masters. With regards the influence on this particular painting, we can point to the heavy contrast between the red and blue tones as an example of that, as well as the pyramid shape of the Madonna which was a common layout technique used by members of the Italian Renaissance over a period of several centuries - see also Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture as confirmation of that. It is also worth comparing the Haller Madonna with some of the artist's other depictions of the Madonna in order to see how he varied these compositions and also worked extensively across a variety of different mediums within a varied oeuvre. The Madonna with the Iris and Madonna of the Pear are two further examples.

That said regarding Bellini's influence, Durer was someone who took inspiration from all manner of different sources and so would never simply copy an artist, but instead fuse different ideas together, adding his own innovations as he went. What would result from this would be an exciting blend of Northern and Italian Renaissance techniques which helped Durer's style to stand out as something unique. Few artists travelled between these artistic locations at the time, and so most would only work in the ways of their local communities until several centuries. Much has been made of Durer's travels around Europe and without them he simply would never have been such an interesting artist, as his success was down to much more than just his exceptional technical abilities.

Madonna and Child in Detail Albrecht Durer