Artworks and Artists
The Cook and His Wife

The Cook and His Wife,
c. 1496
Dürer, Albrecht
engraving on laid paper
11.3 x 8.1 cm; image: 10.8 x 7.7 cm


This print illustrates a tale from Der Ritter vom Turn (The Knight of the Tower), a popular collection of fables compiled in France during the fourteenth century by Geoffrey de la Tour-Landry as a means to provide guidance to his daughters on proper behavior. While Dürer illustrated the first German translation published in Basel in 1493, this print, The Cook and His Wife, created circa 1496 was not part of that original series. The story of The Cook and His Wife, addresses the importance of honesty between a husband and wife. It begins with the husband who decides to set a side an eel, considered a delicacy, to cook for a special occasion. One day while he was out of the house, his wife eats the eel. Later she tells her husband that an otter took it. The husband however knows that she is deceiving him, as a talking magpie, which witnessed her thievery, told him so.