The Temptation of the IdlerEnlarge image

The Temptation of the Idler, c. 1497-1498

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
engraving on laid paper
18.9 x 12.2 cm; image: 18.7 x 11.9 cm
Purchased 1964
National Gallery of Canada (no. 14594)

This print, moral in character, has its source in medieval literature and art, yet employs motifs characteristic of Renaissance humanism. Reflecting the view that laziness is the root of all sin, the man slumbers when he should be doing constructive work. Tempted by the Devil, who appears in the foreground in the guise of Venus accompanied by Cupid, the idler has been struck by indolence. The figure of the goddess recalls in some respects a pose inspired by Italian art and in others the corpulent anatomy of the bodies found in "The Four Witches".


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