In a new review on Leonardo, Michael Mosher discusses Mitchell Merback’s book Perfection’s Therapy: An Essay on Albrecht Dürer’s Melencholia I. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below.
“Dürer’s biographer Erwin Panofsky wrote that, unlike the artist’s blissful, God-serving ‘Saint Jerome’, ‘Melencolia I’ showed ‘a life in competition with God … the tragic unrest of human creation.’ Walter Benjamin wrote in 1925 that this print ‘anticipated the Baroque in many respects,’ then Benjamin’s admirer Susan Sontag wrote of him as the embodiment of melancholy, born ‘Under the Sign of Saturn’. Merback now asserts the print ‘Melencolia I’ is both a diagnosis and ‘therapeutic artifact’ in its context. Dürer, like the poet Petrarch, set himself up as a ‘physician of the soul’.”