Albrecht Dürer, The Adoration of the Shepherds, from The Life of the Virgin, circa 1503, woodcut, 11 3/4 x 8 5/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Albrecht Dürer, The Adoration of the Shepherds, from The Life of the Virgin, circa 1503, woodcut, 11 3/4 x 8 5/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing Double Dürers

Albrect Dürer created this lovely woodcut of the shepherds adoring the baby Jesus on the night he was born as part of a series that illustrates the Life of the Virgin.  The print demonstrates Dürer’s German sensibilities with the expressive faces of Mary, the angels and the shepherds, as well as the way Dürer was inspired by his Italian contemporaries to use linear perspective to create the deep space of the shed.

So impressed was the shrewd and prolific engraver in Venice, Marcantonio Raimondi, that he plagiarized the series completely, down to the last details, which included Dürer’s monogram.

When Dürer complained to the Venetian senate, it ruled that only the artist’s monogram was protected by law; Dürer had to endure the theft.  The courts did not create copyright laws that protect intellectual property until later in the 16th century.

Merry Christmas from The Art Minute.

Marcatonio Raimondi, copy of Albrecht Dürer, The Adoration of the Shepherds, from The Life of the Virgin, c. 1503, engraving, 12” x 9”, National Library of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Marcantonio Raimondi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Marcatonio Raimondi, copy of Albrecht Dürer, The Adoration of the Shepherds, from The Life of the Virgin, c. 1503, engraving, 12” x 9”, National Library of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Marcantonio Raimondi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.