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The Temptation of the Idler (The Dream of the Doctor)

A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.


c. 1498


Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471-1528

About this artwork

The German proverb “Idleness is the Devil’s pillow” is the subject of this print. While the doctor is asleep at the stove, the devil blows wicked ideas in his ear, which take the form of a naked woman.
Born in Nuremberg, the print center of Europe, Albrecht Dürer sought out the work of master engravers to deepen his knowledge, including Martin Schongauer and the Master of the Housebook, whose prints are displayed nearby (1938.1825 and 1958.299). In this work, Dürer surpasses his predecessors in his acute ability to render distinct surface textures of wood, cloth, and flesh. The off-axis contrapposto position of the nude echoes the Italianate figures Dürer studied in his 1494 trip to Venice.


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Prints and Drawings


Albrecht Dürer


The Temptation of the Idler (The Dream of the Doctor)




Made 1493–1503


Engraving in black on ivory laid paper


188 × 119 mm

Credit Line

Clarence Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


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