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Durers painting Melancholia I is seen by many historians as being a depiction of the intellectual situation of the artist and is thus, by extension, a spiritual self-portrait of Durer

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Introduction

Albrecht Durer - Melancholia I Durer's painting Melancholia I is seen by many historians as being a "depiction of the intellectual situation of the artist and is thus, by extension, a spiritual self-portrait of Durer" http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/43.106.1 . It is a "pristine copperplate engraving" and a "late 18th Century impression on watermark laid paper" http://www.vialibri.net/item_pg/6291036-1514-durer-albrecht-melancholia-copperplate-engraving.htm by Albrecht Durer who lived during the Renaissance period and as such this art work was highly influenced by the renaissance style of art at that time. The main reason why I feel it was painted is stated within the picture. The shape/ boulder in the centre -left of the picture, seen by Panofsky as a "truncated rhomboid" http://www.citizenarcane.com/index.php/archives/2005/04/21/durer-melancolia-1/ has displayed on it a face. Once looked at for several minutes, you can pick out both a man (with his head to the right) and a woman (with her head in the air). The 2 hidden faces resemble Durer's last portraits of his parents and the exact poses they held. From what I see and what I have researched, the painting is full of content and significance. The first thing that strikes my attention is the facial expressions on the different characters. The child and the dog both have their eyes closed and are pointing downwards. This gives the viewer a sense of negativity or that maybe they are emotionally hurt or that their surroundings are ruthless. ...read more.

Middle

Because the characters are looking away from it, it is as if it is something out of reach from them and that it is a place they could only dream of getting to. This heavenly look was seen as an idea that Durer constructed the motto/title Melancholia I from the covert one Limen Caelo I which means the "Gateway to Heaven" http://www.citizenarcane.com/index.php/archives/2005/04/21/durer-melancolia-1/ The hourglass which is behind the angel brings the above points together that of Melancholia and the sad mood of the characters. The hourglass presents to me, an image that shows time is running out, maybe for the character. Perhaps she is thinking in ending their life, this is significant to that of Melancholia as it refers to the "loss of interest in life activities" (See medical dictionary website). The facial expression of the angel is that of giving up and depressed. What I also see is the "Magical Square of Jupiter" which I mentioned earlier is very significant in finding the date in which it was published. The bottom line is the most interesting as it is where it tells us the date of the picture, 15-14. From research, I have learned that the number right to it is A which is the same as 1 in the simple Masonic Code of values. The number to the left is 4 equalling D according to geometric value. ...read more.

Conclusion

As I stated above, the main character (the angel) is looking away from everything with an attitude of giving up. It's as if she is fed up and that the bright light in the background (maybe indicating to heaven or a dreamy place) is something in a distance and not reachable. Black and White are two dull contrasts and produce a sense of darkness. The tools lying around also produce a terrifying scene. These tools consist of nails, hammer, saw, and a sort of ankle clamp used in prisons. It's as if they are stuck in this place and they can't get out or get to the place they want to be (the comet, the shining light). My impression on the artwork is that of mystery and interpretation. Durer has produced this engraving and has left it open for interpretation by whoever reviews it. By researching it I have seen that it contains many hidden meanings, and still to this very day meanings have possibly not yet been discovered. To conclude I feel that in the creation of this piece of artwork, Durer was primarily trying to include the portraits of his parents and also trying to represent one of the four humors. These are the two main aims that I believe influenced Durer the most when he was creating this engraving. My judgement on the artwork is that he has succeeded greatly on leaving it open to interpretation and I also feel that the artwork itself is fantastic and the different shapes and figures are well drawn out and defined. ...read more.

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