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.