Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Four Books on Human Proportion (Hierinn sind begriffen vier Bücher von menschlicher Proportion)
Nuremberg: Agnes Dürer, 1532, 1534
Gift of John P. Morgan II in memory of Mrs. Junius S. Morgan, 1981; PML 77029.2
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Dürer produced dozens of manuscripts on the subject of
proportion. Through the efforts of his wife, Agnes, and friend
Willibald Pirckheimer, these treatises were published posthumously
as Four Books on Human Proportion. The treatise
attests to Dürer's changing attitude toward the body over time.
He came to believe that artists should not strive for a single
standard of beauty but instead embrace a variety of forms,
writing, "If you wish to make a beautiful human figure, it is
necessary that you probe the nature and proportions of many
people: a head from one; a breast, arm, leg from another. . . ."
In this folio, Dürer depicted figures, accompanied by a
corresponding list of body parts, superimposed on a diagram
using a single unit of measurement indicated by symbols.
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