Just as we have in Assyria an Ishtar of Arbela and an Ishtar of Nineveh (treated in Assur-bani-pal's (Rassam) cylinder 2 like two distinct deities), as we have local Madonnas in Roman Catholic countries, so must it have been with the cults of Yahweh in the regal period carried on in the numerous high places, Bethel, Shechem, Shiloh (till its destruction in the days of Eli) and Jerusalem.
2 Accordingly, the baals are not to be regarded necessarily as local variations of one and the same god, like the many Virgins or Madonnas of Catholic lands, but as distinct numina.
Raphael cordially responded to the Bolognese master's admiration, and said, in a letter dated in 1508, that few painters or none had produced Madonnas more beautiful, more devout, or better portrayed than those of Francia.
The evidences of this travel (which are really incontestable, though a small minority of critics still decline to admit them) consist of (1) some fine drawings, three of them dated 1494 and others undated, but plainly of the same time, in which Diirer has copied, or rather boldly translated into his own Gothic and German style, two famous engravings by Mantegna, a number of the "Tarocchi" prints of single figures which pass erroneously under that master's name, and one by yet another minor master of the North-Italian school; with another drawing dated 1495 and plainly copied from a lost original by Antonio Pollaiuolo, and yet another of an infant Christ copied in 1495 from Lorenzo di Credi, from whom also Diirer took a motive for the composition of one of his earliest Madonnas; (2) several landscape drawings done in the passes of Tirol and the Trentino, which technically will not fit in with any other period of his work, and furnish a clear record of his having crossed the Alps about this date; (3) two or three drawings of the costumes of Venetian courtesans, which he could not have made anywhere but in Venice itself, and one of which is used in his great woodcut Apocalypse series of 1498 (4) a general preoccupation which he shows for some years from this date with the problems of the female nude, treated in a manner for which Italy only could have set him the example; and (5) the clear implication contained in a letter written from Venice in 1506 that he had been there already eleven years before; when things, he says, pleased him much which at the time of writing please him no more.
He attempted no subjects at all commensurate with those of his great woodcuts, but contented himself for the most part with Madonnas, single figures of scripture or of the saints, some nude mythologies of a kind wholly new in northern art and founded upon the impressions received in Italy, and groups, sometimes bordering on the satirical, of humble folk and peasants.
In the earliest of the Madonnas, the "Virgin with the Dragon-fly" (49549), Diirer has thrown something of his own rugged energy into a design of the traditional Schongauer type.
Among engravings of the same time are three Madonnas, the apostles Thomas and Paul, a bagpiper and two peasants dancing, and three or four experiments in etching on plates of iron and zinc. In wood-engraving his energies were almost entirely given to bearing a part - which modern research has proved to have been not nearly so large as was traditionally supposed - in the great decorative schemes commanded by the Emperor Max in his own honour, and devised and carried out by a whole corps of men of letters and artists: namely, the Triumphal Gate ..and the Triumphal March or Procession.
Other paintings of this and the succeeding year we may seek for in vain; but in line engravings we have four more Madonnas, two St Christophers, one or two more peasant subjects, the well-known St Anthony with the view of Nuremberg in the background, and the smaller of the two portraits of the Cardinal-Elector of Mainz; and in wood-, engraving several fine heraldic pieces, including the arms of Nuremberg.
A number of studies of heads in pen or silver point, with some sketches for Madonnas, including a charming series in the British Museum for a "Madonna with the Cat," may belong to the same years or the first years of his independence.
A letter from Leonardo to Charles d'Amboise in 1511, announcing the end of his law troubles, speaks of two Madonnas of different sizes that he means to bring with him to Milan.