Melencolia I

Albrecht Dürer German

Not on view

The winged figure in Melencolia I has inspired many readings over its long history, although her ties to mathematical knowledge are often highlighted. Many of her accoutrements are borrowed from medieval and Renaissance allegories of geometry that personify it as a woman working at a table surrounded by tools. Perhaps most notably, a truncated rhombohedron looms large in the middle distance, dividing the foreground—a scene replete with the detritus of measurement—from the limitless background of a placid sea that vanishes into the horizon, presumably the type of natural territory the geometer purports to measure.

Melencolia I, Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg), Engraving; second state

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