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Melancholia, 1514

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
engraving on laid paper
24.2 x 19 cm; image: 23.9 x 18.6 cm
Purchased 1922
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2068)

In this intense image, Dürer depicts Melancholy as one of the four human temperaments - the choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholic. This complex allegory is rooted in a Neoplatonic concept that emerged during the Renaissance, which held that melancholy was to be found particularly in great thinkers and artists. Thus Melancholy, here in the guise of a huge winged woman, is surrounded by the attributes of intellectual creativity and scientific research.

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