• Old Master Prints auction at Christies

    Sale 7781

    Old Master Prints

    8 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 20

    Albrecht Dürer

    Melencolia I (B. 74; M., Holl. 75; S.M.S. 71)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Albrecht Dürer
    Melencolia I (B. 74; M., Holl. 75; S.M.S. 71)
    engraving, 1514, watermark Bishop's Crest (M. 39), a good, earlier Meder II f impression, with the scratch in the sphere probably erased, still printing clearly and with contrasts, trimmed to or just outside the subject, a horizontal printer's crease at centre right, a few other minor printer's creases, a 15 mm. repaired tear at the lower sheet edge, a horizontal central crease mainly visible verso, the sheet slightly cockled due to remains of old adhesive verso, otherwise in good condition
    S. 237 x 186 mm.


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    We know that by Dürer's time the melancholic temperament was associated with genius and the pursuit of knowledge, particularly that of empirical, applied science. The ruler, the scale and the pair of compasses are all measuring devices, instruments for the examination of nature. The building tools and the melting pot on the other hand are symbols of human creativity. To Dürer, the observation and comprehension of the natural world was the basis of art. When we consider that the artists of the Renaissance, with Leonardo and Dürer as prime examples, saw themselves as artists as well as scientists, then Melencolia I might be described as a coded self-portrait.

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    Provenance

    Rusu, purple stamp verso (not in Lugt).