Melencolia I 1514


Albrecht Dürer

1471 – Nuremberg – 1528

Melencolia I 1514

engraving; 239 x 187 mm (9 3/8 x 7 5/16 inches), with wide margins

Bartsch 74, Meder 75 state IIb (of IIf); Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 71

Watermark: small jug (Meder 158)

A very fine impression, in excellent condition.


library of the Magdalenenkirche, later university library, Wrocław (formerly Breslau) (Lugt 2371b)

C.G. Boerner, Neue Lagerliste 6, Düsseldorf 1952, no. 38

private collection, Germany

Among the dozens of interpretations of the elements of Melancholia are these insights – in his essay on Melencolia – by the eminent art historian Erwin Panofsky:

“Dürer’s Melencholia is neither a miser nor a mental case but a thinking being in perplexity, her face overcast by a deep shadow, made more impressive by the startling white of the eyes. The wreath on her head is woven of water-ranunculus and watercress, both plants of a watery nature, to counteract the bad effects of “dryness” associated wth the melancholy humor. The mature and learned Melencholia typifies Theoretical Insight which thinks but cannot act. The ignorant infant, making meaningless scrawls on his slate and almost conveying blindness, typifies Practical Skill which acts but cannot think.”