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Nativity of the Virgin (Altdorfer)

The Nativity of the Virgin is an oil-on-panel painting by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Altdorfer, dating to c. 1520, which is now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

Description The work uses a scenic composition typical of the Danube school of the time. The subject, the birth of Mary, is shown in a secondary location in the lower part of the painting. It includes St. Anne's bed, the midwives with the daughter and St. Joachim riding a stair with something in his hand.

The predominant part of the work is the church background, where angels fly to form a large circle: in the middle is a young angel with a thurible for incense.

The edifice, symbolizing the analogy between Mary and the Catholic church (a subject later abolished by the Protestant Reformation), is organized in a complicated and original fashion: the ambulatory and the column galleries are Romanesque, the ogival windows are Gothic, the vaults and the shell-shaped niches are in Renaissance style. This attention to architectural elements was typical of Altdorfer's work in the period he spent at the court of Maximilian I.

c. 1520
Oil on panel
140.7 x 130.0cm
Image and text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2023