Like his earliest engraving of the subject, Dürer portrayed the Madonna and Child within an enclosed garden. In addition to the garden, which refers to Mary’s virginity, the artist included other elements that reference each figure’s religious significance. The bird held by the Christ Child represents the souls that will be saved by his sacrifice while the chained monkey, a symbol of lust and greed, is tamed under the Madonna’s influence, thus reinforcing her purity and virtue. Done only a few years later than his Holy Family with Butterfly, the difference in the sculptural modeling of the figures and the skillful handling of the background show Dürer’s quick development as an engraver as well as the impact of his first visit to Italy in 1495-96.
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