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The Circumcision of ChristEnlarge image

The Circumcision of Christ, c. 1505

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
woodcut on laid paper
29.6 x 20.9 cm
Purchased 1922
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2059)

The occasion when Christ was named Jesus and shed his first blood is set in a barrel-vaulted temple. During the circumcision ceremonies a priest holds the child while another priest performs the ritual. To the right, Joseph, hat in hand, appears to look away, while beside him Mary frowns and bows her head. Dürer emphasizes everyday experience through the contemporary dress of the bystanders, adding such details as another infant who waits his turn in the arms of his father in the doorway. The standing man holding a braided candlestick balances the grouping of figures around Christ.

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