Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus, was a popular saint in the fifteenth century. When depicted with her daughter and grandson, the subject is called Anna Selbdritt in German or Anna Metterza in Italian, which, translated literally, means “Anne, put in third place.” Anne was traditionally shown holding a miniaturized adult Virgin Mary on her lap, who, in turn, was shown holding the Infant Jesus on her lap. The inventive Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer eschewed this conventional iconography to find a more natural, elegant pictorial solution for the hieratic image. Instead he shows Anne and Mary standing beside each other and gazing warmly at the infant Christ. Mary can be identified by her long flowing locks and less matronly dress.
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