A Wise Virgin
Albrecht Dürer executed this richly detailed drawing at the age of twenty-two, while travelling through Europe’s Upper Rhine region to complete his artistic training. On one side of the sheet he drew a female figure holding a burning oil lamp; she represents one of the Wise Virgins waiting for the bridegroom in the Biblical parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.
Turning the paper at 180° and using the other side of the sheet, the artist sketched his own left leg from two slightly different viewpoints, adding the date 1493 at the top of the sheet. The rapidly sketched lines in this drawing suggest a fresh immediacy. On the other hand, the carefully drawn folds of the Virgin’s tunic as well as her abundant curls show Dürer’s response to the precisely defined lines of contemporary engravings and woodcuts that had made an impact on his early drawing style.
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