ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
Property from the Francey and Dr. Martin L. Gecht Collection
ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)

Melencolia I

Details
ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
Melencolia I
engraving, 1514, on laid paper, without watermark, a very good Meder II a impression, printing with great clarity and good contrasts, trimmed to or just outside the borderline, just fractionally into the subject in places, a small paper split at upper left, a tiny made-up paper loss at the lower right sheet edge, scattered foxing mainly visible verso, framed
Sheet 237 x 185 mm.
Provenance
William Bell Scott (1811-1890), Edinburgh & London (Lugt 2607); his posthumous sale, Sotheby's, London, 14 July 1892, lot 35 (presumably this impression cited in Lugt: £ 37).
Literature
Bartsch 74; Meder, Hollstein 75; Schoch, Mende, Scherbaum 71

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Lot Essay

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. Although Dürer titled this engraving, it has become the most extensively interpreted work in the history of art, the iconography has intrigued and inspired countless art historians and scholars of all fields. One of the competing theories identifies the central figure as Lucifer, the best and brightest of the angels, ruing his rebellion. Having been expelled from Heaven and condemned to the material world, hence the depiction of the instruments pertinent to the material world which surround him, he sits lamenting his fate. His act of defiance marks the beginning of sadness for mankind, hence the title - "Melencolia I". On the horizon, the star and the rainbow signify Hope for mankind.

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