Melancolia I

Illustrated by Albrecht Dürer



This image is understood to have been prepared in, or about, 1514 and is widely recognized among Dürer's masterworks.


Knackfuss (Durer: H Grevel & Co, London; 1900) describes the illustration thus:


Here is a seated figures which personified the power of the human intellect, crowned

with the laurel of fame, surrounded by all kinds of symbols of human knowledge and

power, such as tools and figures of solid geometry. This mighty being may soar far

away on her stalwart pinions, yet at last she sinks exhausted in the consciousness of her

imperfection. She is like the child which sits on the millstone doing sums and exercises

on a tablet. She almost envies the brute which has no yearning after knowledge to

mar its slumber. The crucible of the alchemist, but which the ultimate elements of

things refuse to be revealed, and the sphere, the content of which cannot be expressed

in numbers, are symbols of the limitation of the human spirit and counterparts of the

ladder leaning against the tower, in mockers of the tiny height above the earth to

which man is able to raise himself. Space and time set limits to the human intellect.

The hour-glass and the bell on the wall of the tower, where a square frame of

numbers tells of the aimless trifling of human ingenuity, proclaim that time is fleeting

and that its hours are numbered. And over the vanishing horizon of the ocean the

enigmatical apparition of a comet gleams through the infinite space of the heavens,

adorned with the intangible shape of a rainbow. Conscious of her own nothingness

in the presence of the universe, the genius gazes before her, dejected, with drooping

pinions, and her hand rests idly on the book, in which the incomprehensible mystery

is not told, and on the compasses with which she cannot measure the unattainable.



How to purchase our Greeting Cards and large format reproductions


When presented on Greeting Cards, this image is prepared as a tipped-on plate - in hommage to the hand-crafted

approach typical of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Each card is

hand-finished, with the image presented on White card stock with an accompanying envelope. On the rear of each

card we also present some information about Albrecht Dürer and this wonderful illustration. We have left the interior

of the cards blank so that you may write your own personal message.


Each of our large format reproductions are prepared with archival quality materials and processes to ensure many years

of enjoyment. In addition, our reproductions are accompanied by explanatory material relating to Albrecht Dürer and

this wonderful illustration.


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In the meantime, enjoy perusing this wonderful illustration by Albrecht Dürer.



The illustration



Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Code: AD M SGC
Price: US$5.00


Reproduction on 8x12" sheet

Code: AD M (8x12)
Price: US$30.00


  Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

Code: AD M (12x18)
Price: US$60.00




Some details from the illustration


The disconsolate genius The child doing sums Symbols of the passage of time