DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). Underweysung der messung. Nuremberg: [Hieronymus Andreas Formschneider,] 1525.
DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). Underweysung der messung. Nuremberg: [Hieronymus Andreas Formschneider,] 1525.
DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). Underweysung der messung. Nuremberg: [Hieronymus Andreas Formschneider,] 1525.
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DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). Underweysung der messung. Nuremberg: [Hieronymus Andreas Formschneider,] 1525.

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DÜRER, Albrecht (1471-1528). Underweysung der messung. Nuremberg: [Hieronymus Andreas Formschneider,] 1525.

The first edition of one of the earliest mathematical works published in German, and Dürer’s first published treatise of art theory: ‘the foundation of accepted aesthetic dogma until the nineteenth century’.

Folio (293 x 200mm). 89 leaves (of 90, without the final blank). Woodcut illustrations and geometrical diagrams throughout, two of these [on P4v and Q1r] extended with pasted-in folding slips, and two others [on C5v and K1r] printed on pasted-in cancel slips correcting the original figures; the fore margin of I1 folded to preserve the illustration. Small humorous drawing in an early hand in the margin of H2 (small repair in the top margin of M3, the figures in M6 and Q3 just shaved in the fore margin). Early 20th-century vellum, the spine lettered in manuscript, edges sprinkled red and black (lacking the ties). Provenance: Bibliotheca Palatina Vindobonensis (duplicate stamp in the margin of the last leaf) — Martin Breslauer (typed description laid in) — Albert Ehrman (armorial bookplate with the motto “Pro viribus summis contendo”) — Lindsay (Balcarres shelf label).


Although written after his treatise on human proportion, the Underweysung der Messung was the first of Dürer's three theoretical works on art to be published. Conceived as a practical guide to the rules of geometry, and the principles of perspective for artists, architects, sculptors, stonemasons and other craftsmen, the work introduced to northern Europe a system of projection that had been refined by the artists of the Italian Renaissance. In it Dürer formulated a comprehensive and mathematically sound basis for the realistic depiction of natural objects in space. ‘The connection of the beautiful with the natural, of the work of art with what is correct (i.e. mathematical) was a typical concept of the Renaissance. In the illustration of these principles lies the great historical importance of Dürer's theoretical writings. They were the foundation of accepted aesthetic dogma until the nineteenth century’ (PMM). ‘Except for the Geometria Deutsch (ca. 1486-1487), a book of arithmetical rules for builders which Dürer knew and used, the Underweysung der Messung is the first mathematics book in German. With its publication Dürer could claim a place in the front ranks of Renaissance mathematicians’ (DSB). This copy conforms to Bohatta’s variant 2 (without an imprint on the last leaf). It is the Broxbourne copy, with Albert Ehrman’s bookplate. The margin of leaf H2 includes a humorous perspectival drawing in an early hand. Adams D-1057; Berlin Kat 4607; Bohatta Ia; Meder XXVI 1; Norman 665; PMM 54; Stillwell Awakening 161.
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