Image: 11.5 x 7 cm (4 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.); Sheet: 12.8 x 8.5 cm (5 1/16 x 3 3/8 in.)
In honor of William Mathewson Milliken 1959.224
Catalogue raisonné: Meder 65b/d
Dürer’s interest in mythological imagery stemmed from his familiarity with the Italian Renaissance. In this ambiguous engraving, Dürer depicted a satyr-a hybrid woodland creature typically associated with lust-in the role of father and family man. Instead of carousing in the forest, he plays music to his newborn child. Dürer’s play on the mother and child theme and the satyr’s unconventional fatherly behavior draws attention to a primal and simplified way of life. In contrast though, the group rests within an inhospitable dense forest where tops of trees are splintered and branches are dead, implying that the figures’ relaxed instinctual approach toward procreation and sexuality remains outside the bounds of Christian virtue.
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