Jun 1, 2006
Dec 1, 2005

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey

The Virgin and Child with a Monkey

c. 1498

Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471–1528)


Image: 19 x 7.9 cm (7 1/2 x 3 1/8 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1964.29

Catalogue raisonné: Meder 30a


Did you know?

The monkey portrayed here can be identified as a Barbary macaque, which the artist may have seen as part of a zoological collection in Germany.


Catholic theology during the Renaissance taught the Virgin Mary as a woman born without original sin, an idea manifested in botanical and zoological symbols. Albrecht Dürer portrayed the Virgin and Christ child within a garden enclosed by a low wood gate. Mary gazes down at her son, who holds a bird with his left hand, a symbol of the souls he
will save through his Crucifixion. The tamed monkey, chained to the fence, is an accurate zoological study (probably a Barbary macaque) with a theological role: associated with bodily pleasure, it shows the power of Mary’s virtue over Eve’s sin.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

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