The Adoration of the Magi


Albrecht Dürer (1471 – Nuremberg – 1528), The Adoration of the Magi 1511, woodcut; 295 x 221 mm, Bartsch.3; Meder 208 b (of i); Schoch, Mende and Scherbaum 225

watermark: bull’s head and flower and initials JZ (Meder 70)


Graf Yorck von Wartenburg, Klein-Oels, Silesia (Lugt 2669);

his sale, C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, May 2-3, 1932, lot 382; 750 Marks to Guiot

Gabriel Cognacq, Paris (Lugt 538d);

his sale, M. Rousseau, Drouot, Paris, May 21, 1952, lot 105; 34,000 francs

P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London (stock no. 28704)

Richard Zinser, Forest Hills, NY

thence by descent

N.G. Stogdon, cat. VIII: German and Netherlandish Woodcuts of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, 1991-92, no. 34


The print was made the same year Dürer published another version on this subject in the cycle of the Life of the Virgin (Meder 199; this latter print was actually executed earlier in ca. 1501-03). The 1511 version is slightly larger than the blocks in the series and it was clearly intended as a separate single-leaf print. Therefore, it presents an excellent opportunity to observe the remarkable artistic development between the two treatments of the same subject: Dürer brings a greater clarity and monumentality to the individual forms as well as to the whole composition. Ultimately, he redefines the traditional devotional image within a new artistic form.


Meder’s states (a) and (b) differ only in the watermark; Dürer seemed to have used paper with a high crown watermark (Meder 20) for part of his earliest edition of this print and even his state (a) already shows first traces of a fine vertical crack in the block at top and bottom; as described by Meder under (a), this crack is hardly noticeable in the present impression.


A very fine impression; the borderline visible all round; glue marks stemming from an old album mount visible only on the verso, otherwise in excellent condition.