There’s No Melancholy in Melencolia – One Secret of Greatest Art Fraud in Art History


melencolia by Albrecht Durer
Melencolia symbol I

This engraving is Dürer’s greatest masterpiece.  It is the most debated image in the history of art, and tens of thousands of scholarly articles have been written about its supposed meaning, none of which are correct to date.

Let’s look again at D’s most famous print, which scholars call Melencolia or Melencolia ONE and Dürer called THE MELANCHOLY, which implies that this print is about a specific person or persons since the Latin ending of “ia” could be plural.

Notice that the word Melencolia is spelled wrong-the second “E” should be an “A”, something scholars have ignored for centuries. We easily forget how technically sophisticated printmakers were in Dürer’s time. There is no way that print engravers got it right every time and the material was too expensive to throw away. If a mistake was made in a woodblock, the area was cut out and a new plug was put in; if a mistake was made in a copperplate, it would be buffed out.

Why would Dürer, an expert on lettering who wrote a book about how to draw letters, leave such a blatant mistake in this print?  It doesn’t make sense, he’s not that sloppy.

Notice also that what researchers have hypothesized is the numeral “one” is the letter “I” and it’s a different “I” than the one in the word.

But also notice the flourish in between the word and the last letter “I.” Scholars have ignored this symbol as a mere decoration.  I found a strike through it.  Which makes it a symbol, an integral symbol to the meaning of this print.

Researchers assumed that the word MELENCOLIA is a title because Dürer has inscribed that word within the image. Yet titling prints within the composition was a practice Dürer had abandoned nineteen years before; only one other print from 1495, when Dürer first became a Master, was titled in the woodblock [Ercules].

Greatest Secrets in The 1495 Ercules woodcut
The 1495 “Ercules” woodcut. the only titled print

We do know that he referred to this print by the name of  “Melancholj,” spelled with an “a,” and not with the “e” that is used in the word, because of the references in his Diary of the Netherlands Journey (he actually used 7 differently spelled versions of Melancholj in his Diary).

Thus, the composition has been interpreted as an allegory to depression (known as melancholy in the Renaissance), even though what is known of Dürer would indicate that he was the opposite of a melancholic. There is no MELANCHOLY in MELENCOLIA.

This composition is Dürer’s greatest example of steganography, hiding messages in plain sight. The complete set of symbols within the cartouche, held by the bat, is not a title; it is  the most ingeniously disguised inscription in the history of art, a Latinized Greek inscription, hidden in plain view. THE GREATEST ART FRAUD perpetrated in all of art history, hidden in plain sight for centuries.   Combined with the astounding discovery of an embedded code in the belt of the woman with wings, the two steganographic messages prove that this is not an allegorical composition.

Quite a genius.

Let’s look at the symbolism.

The inscription is made up of every symbol within the cartouche, including the flourish in-between the word and the “I” at the end.

What does the inscription say?


Full Melencolia inscription
Full Melencolia inscription


Let’s start with the flourish symbol.  Notice that the curve of the swirl on top is the complete opposite of the curve of the swirl and that the center box has a strike directly through the middle making each half of the box with it’s opposing swirl equal.

Enlargement of the Flourish
Enlargement of the Flourish

Here’s pictures of the swirls that I found in a symbol dictionary.


Symbol Dictionary about the swirls
Symbol Dictionary about the swirls

The clockwise swirl has the meaning of “out going migration,” or potential movement.  The counterclockwise swirl has the meaning of rotation or “returning” or homecoming to something.  Taken together, they indicate something that something has gone out (birth) and is returning “home” (death).  Taken together with the equally divided box, this flourish is a symbol in this inscription for those who have completed their journey of life and is returning to their maker.

So let’s get to the word Melencholia spelled with an “E.”



The current hypothesis for this word is that D was a bad speller, which I find ludicrous. The first clue is that the word “MELENCOLIA” is spelled wrong, the second “E” should be an “A.”. Dürer had the skill to correct engraving plate errors, which he did in other areas of this plate and on other plates.  Thus, his spelling is not merely an error but is deliberate, purposeful and significant.

The word Melencolia is Latinized Greek. The two Greek root words are “Mele” and “col” which would have been spelled in Greek with the letter Chi, which is an X.  To pronounce these two words together required the addition of a meaningless “N”.   The “IA” at the end of the word feminizes it, either singular or plural.

Mele in Greek means “sweetness.”  Col means suffering and is the root of the words coleric and cholera. So what do we have at this point?  Mele-Sweetness, Col-sorrow or suffering, a symbol meaning returning, and the final letter I.


Comparison of the two "I"s
Comparison of the two “I”sAs I said before the last letter is an “I” but is made differently than the I in the word.  Why would the last I be different? There was no letter “J” in the Latin language, so whenever a J sound was required, the letter I was used.  On the left you see a picture of an actual coin struck under the reign of Julius Ceasar, whose name in Latin is spelled I U L I U S.

As I said before the last letter is an “I” but is made differently than the I in the word.  Why would the last I be different? There was no letter “J” in the Latin language, so whenever a J sound was required, the letter I was used.  On the left you see a picture of an actual coin struck under the reign of Julius Ceasar, whose name in Latin is spelled I U L I U S.

On the left you can distinctly see that the letter I used for the J in Julius is similar to the I after the flourish, and the I in the word Melancholia is similar to the second I, which is an I, in the name Julius.  So what does the last I that’s a J stand for in this inscription?


The Latin letters with which we’re all familiar, the Latin letters on the Cross  of Jesus is INRI-Jesus of Nazareth, Kings of the Jews, where the I stands for J.  So this I/J could stand for Jesus. But there is another “Lord” to which this can refer, and that is Yahweh.  The name for Yahweh is known as the Tetragrammaton.  Regardless of whether the Tetragrammaton was spelled in Latin or German, as you see here, it would have also been represented as an I/J.


It appears that this inscription translates into the following:


The Inscription Revelation
The Inscription Revelation

The inscription should be understood to read “In sweetness and in sorrow, these two woman are returning to the Lord.”

Mind boggling, isn’t it, that this has been staring at everyone for over 500 years?






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5 thoughts on “There’s No Melancholy in Melencolia – One Secret of Greatest Art Fraud in Art History

  1. Your explanation makes me think that it could be a play on words, between the meaning you are assigning and the meaning of the word Melancholy. Indicate the cause and effect: Melancholy due to a loss. In which case the Print could still represent a state of depression… (?)

    1. Armando, no it can not . there are over 500 encoded messages in the 7 x 9″ Melencolia print. you need to go read the series on the ships of Melencolia in the archives to start to understand that it is not a play on words or watch my Youtube video where the inscription get’s explained along with many other things.

      Happy reading or watching!



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