Nativity 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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Albrecht Durer was a German artist born in Nuremburg in 1471. Durer found fame in his lifetime for his paintings and engravings/prints, utilizing his knowledge of mathematics and the Italian art scene to become a major figure of the Northern Renaisance movement.

Nativity referred to in this article is an engraving and print of 1504. The subject is one which Durer returned to on a number of occasions. The 1504 Nativity is an engraving/print depicting the scene of the birth of Christ. The image shows a broken-down building as the birth place of Jesus. The artist does not concentrate on the scene of the nativity for his print, rather choosing to depict a wider scene showing details of the architecture and surrounding area. The lower part of the picture shows Mary taking care of the new-born child while Joseph is seen outside, kneeling by a well and collecting water. In an archway, to the rear of Joseph, an angel can be seen flying through the air. This presumably refers to the Archangel delivering the message of the birth of Christ. Behind Mary, a figure is seen kneeling and praying to the new-born king. He would perhaps be the keeper of the animals shown near to him in a stable.

Durer, due to his interest in architecture and mathematics, was able to produce very detailed images and this is seen in the Nativity. The delicate touch is reflected in the intricate depiction of the thatched roof of the building, the trees and grass growing from the derelict condition of the surroundings. A notable feature of the print is the 'Sign' hanging from a pole at the top of the building. A board with the date 1504 and the initials 'AD' are in the print due to a court ruling which allowed other artists to copy the work of Durer, but not to sign it as being his. In order to make it clear that a piece of work was indeed by Durer, he would add his initials into the artwork.

This may be now considered as an early 'logo' or even an attempt at a 'trademark' by the artist. Albrech Durer was a success in his own lifetime, not always the case for artists at that time. He was also a 'businessman' who saw the potential of engraving and making prints that he could sell many copies of. The Nativity is a fine example of his work and quality of execution.