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Birth of the VirginEnlarge image

Birth of the Virgin, c. 1503-1504

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
woodcut on laid paper
29.5 x 20.6 cm
Purchased 1915
National Gallery of Canada (no. 1084)

In the background, St. Anne rests in bed attended by midwives while the newborn Virgin Mary is bathed in the right foreground. The drinking figure with a sheathed knife in the left foreground may be the midwife who delivered the child. It is an unusual composition as there is no centralized emphasis of the two principal figures of the story. Rather, they take their place amidst the everyday activities of a household bustling with servants.

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