Philosophia (personification of philosophy) (1502) by Albrecht Durer

Philosophia (personification of philosophy) - Albrecht Durer - 1502

Artwork Information

TitlePhilosophia (personification of philosophy)
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About Philosophia (personification of philosophy)

“Philosophia (personification of philosophy)” is an allegorical woodcut created by the German artist Albrecht Dürer in 1502 during the Northern Renaissance. The artwork serves as a personification of philosophical thought, embodying the genre of allegorical painting.

The woodcut showcases a central female figure, representing Philosophy, seated on a throne and holding two books, symbolizing knowledge. She is adorned with a crown and is surrounded by various natural elements, such as plants and possibly the winds personified at the top corners, each labeled with “EURUS” on the left suggesting the east wind, and “ZEPHIR” on the right for the west wind. Around her are circular medallions containing profiles of individuals labeled with names such as “EGIDIUS,” “GREGORIUS,” “AUGUSTINUS,” “PLATO,” and “SENECA,” representing classical and medieval philosophers and theologians. Each of these figures is connected to Philosophy by a chain, indicating the interconnectedness of their ideas with the central concept of philosophy.

The intricate detail of the foliage around the central figure suggests a lush environment, and the overall composition reflects the influence of the Northern Renaissance, known for its detailed and symbolic representations. Latin inscriptions are presented throughout the image, reinforcing its scholarly themes.

The names “PHILO” and “SOPHIA” appear prominently near the central figure, constructively representing the etymology of the word “philosophy,” which originates from the Greek words for love (philo) and wisdom (sophia). There are more texts scattered throughout the woodcut, likely expounding on philosophical themes or the relation of the represented figures to the central theme of philosophy.

Overall, the artwork portrays a harmonious synthesis of nature, knowledge, and the historical progression of philosophical thought, reflecting the era’s pursuit of uniting scholarship with artistic expression.

Other Artwork from Albrecht Durer

More Northern Renaissance Artwork

Scroll to Top