MELENCOLIA TOES RINGS-RINGS AND THINGS AGAIN

Copyright April 21, 2014 by Dr. Elizabeth Garner All Rights Rseserved

 

This is a closeup of the two rings i found on the print Nemesin that no one but me had found in over  512 years.  You can read more about this discovery in the article Rings and Things.

Nemesis Albrecht Durer Renaissance artists knights dragons michelangelo
Close up of the rings on Nemesin’s fingers. There is a thumb ring and a ring on her index finger

These are wedding rings.  Medieval widows wore thumb rings, the wedding ring of their deceased husband.  While Christians wore wedding rings on almost any finger, customarily their women wore their wedding ring on the third finger of the right hand (as Europeans still do today-Americans have changed this to be the left hand). Only one group consistently required the woman to wear her wedding band on her index finger (and still do today)-and that group was the Jews.

NEMESIN shows us a Jewish widowed horse manager from Hungary, associated with a gold or silversmith, a common occupation of medieval Jews, probably noble, to whom Dürer is paying tribute.  This print is thought to have been published in 1502, the same year Dürer’s father died.  Because of the hidden code I found in Melencolia, which I will shortly show you, I believe this composition is a coded message paying tribute to Dürer’s Hungarian grandmother, Elisabeth, and I believe  Dürer tells us with this image that his family is descended from Hungarian noble Jews.

 

the rings on the "Witch" Margret in the 1500 print Witch Riding the Goat Backwards
the rings on the “Witch” Margret in the 1500 print Witch Riding the Goat Backwards

Now this is a closeup above of the rings that the “Witch” who is Margret, wears in the print known as the Witch Riding the Goat Backwards.

Scholars, who have not offered any reasonable interpretation, have overwhelmingly ignored the pictorial elements in this composition.  This woman is not a witch.  Witches in medieval prints were not depicted nude at this time which she is in the whole print.  In this particular print, which was probably a magic Jewish talisman

She holds a distaff and spindle, used with a wheel for spinning yarn, symbolizing that she is a spinster, an unmarried woman. I discovered she wears two rings on her index and third finger, which normally signified betrothal or marriage.  She rides upon the medieval astrological symbol for Capricorn, the sea-goat that had a fishy tail on the body of a goat. There are three partially buried pilgrimage staffs.  There are four little figures or putti as they are frequently called (singular: putto).  Three of these putti appear to be male while the more demurely dressed one in the lower right corner may be assumed to be female.

It appears that this image is a tribute to five of the eighteen Dürer siblings and that Dürer is indicating that four of these siblings had died as young children.  The seventh and eighth siblings, Agnes and Margret, were twins born in 1476 under the sign of Capricorn (the only Capricorn siblings).  Agnes died as a little girl, while Margret was 24 when this print was made (her death registry entry indicates she died unmarried, a spinster).  It appears that the figure identified as a “witch” is actually the spinster Margret.

But Albrecht depicts Margret wearing the rings in the Christian fashion.  He is making a scathing statement about her relationship with Hieronymous (jerome) Muenzer, the 30 year old married man who was Margret’s lover, that she declares about often in other prints.  He messages that Margret has effectively “married” Muenzer , a non Jew.

 

And finally we have the rings again on the toes of the Putto, in Melencolia.  We can see that there was no room on the putto’s fingers for these to be displayed so  Albrecht had to put the rings on the toes of the Putto. He’s back to displaying these rings as he did in Nemesin, as widows rings, the thumb ring of the ‘husband’ becoming the big toe ring, and the woman’s ring right next to it,.  Muenzer had died in 1508 and Margret had never gotten over this great love of her life. Since Margret had died before this print was published, Albrecht decided kindness was more appropriate, especially with the clues of the 1514 St. Jerome In the Study print, which is the mate to Melancholia

 

To Rings on the Putto, margret
To Rings on the Putto, Margret

 

Regardless, once we see these rings on the Putto’s toes, it is the definitive proof that there is NOTHING in Melencolia that isallegorical and these two woman ARE Albrecht’s mother Barbara (Warbara) and his sister, Margret.

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