Unterweisung der Messung (B. 146, 147; M., Holl. 268, 269 & XXVI; S.M.S. 274)

The book with three original woodcuts and various other illustrations, 1525, Edition A, Nuremberg 1525, The Portraitist (M. 268) with watermark High Crown, some surface dirt, handling marks and minor stains, the page with figure 10 with a tear in the lower right corner, bound in 19th century grey card boards, in a modern red cloth covered chemise and slip-case.

Underweysung der Messung, Dürer's treatise on mensuration (the branch of geometry that deals with the measurement of length, area, or volume), is the first of Dürer's three theoretical works on art to be published. Conceived as a practical guide to the rules of geometry and principles of perspective for artists, architects, sculptors, stonemasons and other craftsmen, the work introduced to northern Europe a system of projection that had been refined by the artists of the Italian Renaissance. In it Dürer formulated a comprehensive and mathematically sound basis for the realistic depiction of natural objects in space. 'The connexion of the beautiful with the natural, of the work of art with what is correct (i.e. mathematical) was a typical concept of the Renaissance. In the illustration of these principles lies the great historical importance of Dürer's theoretical writings... they were the foundation of accepted aesthetic dogma until the nineteenth century' (Carter, Muir, p. 31-32). 'Except for the Geometria Deutsch (ca. 1486-1487), a book of arithmetical rules for builders which Dürer knew and used, the Underweysung der Messung is the first mathematics book in German. With its publication Dürer could claim a place in the front ranks of Renaissance mathematicians' (Gillispie, p. 258-61).

John Carter and Percy H. Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man, Cassell and Company, London, 1967.

Charles Coulston Gillispie, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Volume 4, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1970.

Richard Hancock, with his bookplate.

Robert Honeyman IV, with his bookplate; Sotheby's, London, The Honeyman Collection of Scientific Books and Manuscripts, 30 April-1 May 1979, lot 913 (£2,800).

George Abrams (b. 1932), with his bookplate; Sotheby's, London, The George Abrams Collection, 16-17 November 1989, lot 150 (£13,500).

About Albrecht Dürer

Considered one of the foremost artists of the Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer’s extensive work in printmaking transformed the categorization of the medium from craft to fine art. Often depicting religious subjects, Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings demonstrated unprecedented technical skill, tonal variation, and compositional sophistication. Dürer theorized extensively on linear perspective and anatomical proportion, concerns that were articulated in a vast body of written work as well as in his paintings and prints. Dürer’s skill earned him the role of court artist for Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, under whom he created a number of paintings and altarpieces. Dürer’s series of self-portraits, created throughout his career, represent some of his most iconic works.

German, 1471-1528, Nuremberg, Germany, based in Nuremberg, Germany

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

Chefs-d’oeuvre de Budapest, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris
The Sultan's World: The Ottoman Orient in Renaissance Art, Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), Brussels