Coat of Arms with a Lion and a CockEnlarge image

Coat of Arms with a Lion and a Cock, c. 1500

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
engraving on laid paper
18.4 x 11.9 cm; image: 18.2 x 11.7 cm
Purchased 1922
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2054)

The family to which this armorial device belonged has never been identified - it may be simply a product of the artist’s imagination. Dürer made a careful watercolour study of the helmet, likely of Nuremberg design, from three different points of view, making use of it again for "Coat of Arms with a Skull". Since it would be uncharacteristic of Dürer to produce a purely ornamental image without moral content, one could interpret the cock and the lion as symbols of watchfulness and courage respectively, suggesting that the work is an allegory of vigilance and loyalty.


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