DÜRER, ALBRECHT. 1471-1528.
Hierinn sind begriffen vier Bücher von menschlicher Proportion. Nuremberg: Hieronymus Andreae Formschneider for the widow Dürer, October 31, 1528.
Folio (300 x 200 mm). A-M6 N4 O6(-O6) P-S6 T4 U-X6 Y6(-Y6) Z6. Gothic type, sometimes double column. Without O6 and Y6 as usual, probably cancels used on the folding plates in those gatherings. Dürer's large woodcut monogram on title, approximately 136 full-length proportional woodcuts of human figures, four folding woodcut diagrams, numerous smaller woodcuts, woodcut tail-piece ornaments. 19th century calf, red morocco lettering piece. Very occasional early marginalia in faded red ink, small marginal wormhole, just touching folding diagrams; binding scuffed at edges and extremities.
Provenance: R. Reinhard (neat ownership inscription dated 1900 to title verso and E5v with small pencil drawing of the bones of feet); Morgan family.
FIRST EDITION OF DÜRER'S MASTERPIECE ON HUMAN PROPORTION. THE FIRST APPLICATION OF ANTHROPOMETRY TO AESTHETICS. "Written, designed and illustrated by Dürer, the posthumous Vier Bücher was the first work to discuss the problems of comparative and differential anthropometry. Dürer held that the essence of true form was the primary mathematical figure (e.g., straight line, circle, curve, conic section) constructed arithmetically or geometrically, and made beautiful by the application of a canon of proportion. However, he was also convinced that beauty of form was a relative and not an absolute quality; thus the purpose of his system of anthropometry was to provide the artist with the means to delineate, on the basis of sheer measurement, all possible types of human figures"(Norman). The first two books deal with the ideal proportions of the human form, the third treats of the mathematical basis of changing proportions for varying physiques and children, and the fourth depicts the human figure in motion. Although this was the last of Dürer's three major works to be published, it is believed to be the first one completed. The original drawings are preserved in his Dresden sketchbook, making them, together with Leonardo's drawings at Windsor Castle, the most significant anatomical drawings extant from the Renaissance. Bohatta 17; Garrison-Morton 149; NLM/Durling 1295; Stillwell Science 622; Norman 666.