The three oldest prints in the collection are from the early days of the Northern Renaissance. The first artist Michael Wolgemuth was considered one of the premier printmakers in German history, and his works for the devotional text "Shatzbehalter" by the friar Stephan Fridolin were no exception. This particular print features an illustration of the biblical King Solomon and his many wives, and was one of the total 96 images Wolgemuth rendered for this specific book. These images served as a valuable accompaniment to the religious text as they conveyed the themes and characters of biblical stories to the largely illiterate population of 15th Century Germany. Books such as these were often used as an aid to devotional practices including meditation and prayer. This work displays many of the advances in pictorial tradition from the relatively flat picture plane of the Medieval style to the linear perspective of the Northern Renaissance. However his work generally lacks the realism seen in later Northern European. During his lifetime Wolgemuth also ran a workshop for younger printmakers. The student learned and worked there from 1486-1490. The next two prints in the gallery are the work of Durer, a student who exceeded his teacher.
Born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1471, Durer's works gained him early fame and recognition. This led to his travelling all over Europe to perfect his craft. Durer's Adoration of the Magi and Marriage of the Virgin are from the series "The Life of the Virgin". Published in 1511 they contained 19 total prints detailing important biblical events in the life of the Virgin Mary. These specific prints contain technical advances in the woodcut process and employ chiaroscuro shading, whereas the artist would render a mid-tone to contrast shade and highlight in the image. These scenes feature a variety of figures which have been rendered in a more anatomically correct manner than the figures represented in Wolgemuth's biblical scene.
In addition to the identifiable characters in these scenes look at the ornamentation on the arched doorway in the Marriage of the Virgin. Durer has depicted women on lions battling men on horses and also an owl. The women on lions are believed to represent the dangers of lust and the owl is indicative of night. The sense of realism and visual perspective coupled with the iconography are very indicative of the period and region in which Durer was working and can be seen in works produced well into the Northern Renaissance.