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Last week we showed you Rembrandt’s etching of Mary, mother of Christ, on her deathbed. For his large, baroque composition Rembrandt has borrowed a number of elements from another famous artist. Our Fact Friday question was: Do you know which artist?

The answer is: Albrecht Dürer. We know that Rembrandt purchased an impression of Dürer’s woodcut The death of the Virgin (1510) at an auction in 1638. Comparison between the two prints clearly reveal the difference between the two techniques. Where the lines of the woodcut are stiff and stylized, the lines of the etching are loose and free, like drawing.

As to the composition, we can see that Rembrandt mirrored the position of Mary and the man standing beside her. Another, quite striking difference is that Rembrandt has depicted Mary much older than Dürer has. Furthermore, we see that Rembrandt has added a couple of angels at the top of the composition. He borrowed this element from another woodcut by Dürer: The birth of the Virgin (1501-1505).

Albrecht Dürer was undoubtedly one of Rembrandt’s examples as an artist. The German artist inspired Rembrandt for more than one of his artworks. Another example of this is Rembrandt’s etching Adam and Eve from 1638.

Links: Albrecht Dürer, Sterfbed van Maria, 1510. Houtsnede, Museum Het Rembrandthuis. Rechts: Rembrandt, Sterfbed van Maria, 1639. Ets, Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam.

On the left: Albrecht Dürer, The death of the Virgin, 1510. Woodcut, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam. On the right: Rembrandt, The death of the Virgin, 1639. Etching, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam.

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