Albrecht Dürer ~ 1471-1528

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Melencolia I ~ 1514

     This engraving by Albrecht Dürer in 1415 is filled with a number of items which may be symbols. I shall not try to interpret them, but only identify and locate them. First, the black lettering at the top of the sheet and at the bottom of the stamp are not part of Dürer’s work. M is the figure of Melencoli.
     The symbols include the following: bat, holding the “title” or “motto,” bell, top right, book, under M's left elbow, dividers, in M's left hand, comet, upper left, crucible with tongs, behind truncated cube, dog, below cube, figure of Melencoli, right side, garland, around M's head, hammer, beside truncated cube, hourglass, beside bell, “I,” on title, inkwell, behind top of sphere, keys, on M's belt, ladder (seven runged),  behind truncated cube, magic square, on wall upper right, molding curve, in lower left corner, monogram & date, at right margin under M’s seat, nails, lower right corner, nozzle of a bellows, just above lower right corner, plane, lower left, purse, on skirt of M’s apparel right of leg, putto, sitting on wheel right of truncated cube writing on his cuff (?), rainbow, upper left, ranunculus,in garland, ruler, bottom right, saw, button right, scale, middle top, scarf, under putto, sphere, lower left corner, title, top left (spelled uniquely Melencolia I), tongs, under skirt of M's apparel, town, behind ladder, truncated cube, left middle, watercress, in M's garland, wheel, under putto to right of truncated cube.
     There may be other items, but these are the ones I have identified. According to Dürer’s annotation “keys mean power, purse means wealth,” but he didn’t provide interpretations of any of the other items.
     In the magic square Dürer incuded the year, 1514, of the engraving in the bottom row of numbers. As in magic squares, in general, all lines, and columns add up to a common sum, in this case 34. On this magic square, however, each quadrant also adds up to 34, as do the four squares in each corner, the four middle squares, and both diagonals.

SCN 1037

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