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May 08, 2018

De Symmetria by Albrecht Durer

We'll take a brief hiatus from the Herbal Collection of the Cleveland Medical Library Association, housed in the Allen Memorial Medical Library, to look at De Symmetria partium in rectis formis humanorum corporum libri, by Albrecht Durer, from 1532. This is the first edition of the Latin translation of the work (from German). De Symmetria uses the original wood blocks from the earlier printings for this translation. It is a folio in sixes, with chainlines and several different watermarks.

There is accompanying text from a catalog of the book sale which notes that "This work embodies the first application of anthropometry to esthetics, and is technically interesting because it contains the first attempts to represent shades and shadows in wood engraving by means of crosshatching." The work encompasses many different uses of perspective and forms of proportion to examine the human figure, including forms of the human figure which are not "ideal," which is to say, not idealized forms of the body such as those used by contemporaries such as DaVinci in his exploration of human form. Additionally, in the back of this work are several eulogies, obituaries, and poems in celebration of Albrecht Durer, who had died several years prior to this translation being published.

 

De Symmetria in Latin consists of two works in one volume; with each work containing two books, each dealing with different aspects of the topic of human proportion. There are various diagrams of perspective, blocks or cubes in dimension, figures in motion, and diagrams of the human head. Also of note is an attempt to present the human figure in cross-sectional views (along the axial plane) similar to that in the visible human project.

De Symmetria consists of approximately 160 pages with 85 woodcuts of figure of the human body and various experiments in perspective. The woodcuts are those used in the 1528 German edition. Bound in vellum. Damage on the upper spine/headcap area and internal hinges for several leaves.

Posted by twh7 at May 8, 2018 01:54 PM

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