Tag Archives: Dürer

The mathematicians in the Walhalla

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The Walhalla is a neo-classical hall of fame which honours the most important people in German history. It was conceived in 1807 by Ludwig I of Bavaria (king from 1825 to 1848) and its construction took place between 1830 and 1842 designed by Leo von Klenze.

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The Walhalla was inaugurated on October 18, 1842 with 96 busts and 64 commemorative plaques for people with no available portrait and everything was presided by the great King Ludwig:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Among all these very famous people related with the German history there are some… of course… mathematicians who share this space with Bach, Göethe, Beethoven, Guttemberg,  Luther, Otto von Bismarck,…  First of all, Dürervis the great German painter from the Renaissance who applied a lot of perspective new techniques to his paintings:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The great astronomers are also here. Regiomontanus,…

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Herschel,…

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Copernicus,…

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

and Kepler:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The great Leibniz…

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

and the greatest Gauss (added in 2007), also have their busts in this hall of fame:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Finally, Albert Einstein’s bust was added in 1990:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

I must say that the commemorative plaques also mention Alcuin of York, Albertus Magnus and the Venerable Bede, all ot them related with the wonderful Arithmetics!

Come to Regensburg to see this beautiful (and strange) place!

Location: Walhava in Donaustauf (map)

Nicholas Kratzer (1487? – 1550)

Nicholas Kratzer, 1528 painting after Hans Holbein the Younger
National Portrait Gallery (London)

Nicholas Kratzer was born in Munich and arrived in England in 1516. He became member of the scientific circle around Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) from tutoring More’s children in astronomy and mathematics. After being introduced at Henry VIII’s court (Kratzer was appointed the royal astronomer in 1520), he became friend of important painters as Hans Holbein the Younger and Albrecht Dürer.

In this portrait painted by Holbein, he is surrounded by some astronomical instruments as a sundial or a quadrant and we can see how Kratzer was engraving a polyhedrical sundial.

Location: National Portrait Gallery (map)

Melancolia I

Melencolia I
Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s possible to visit a very interesting exhibition in Madrid about Albert Durer’s engravings in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid (from the 6 of February to 5 of May):

Poster about the exhibition

I was in the Spanish National Library last March and I had the opportunity to visit it. There are 122 engravings designed by this important German artist and we can admire his great Melancolia I between them. We see a lot of geometrical instruments surrounding the main character of the picture but we must pay attention to the truncated rhombohedron with a faint human skull on it and the 4×4 magic square:

Source: Wikimedia Commons

We can read the number 1514 on the lower row of the square which is the date of the engraving. As you can see, the four numbers of each row, each column and each diagonal sum up to 34. Durer was 43 when he painted this picture and maybe his passion for the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34,…) was enough to reverse the two figures of the number of his age. So it was a very good opportunity to see this iconic picture in a real exhibition.

LocationBiblioteca Nacional of Madrid (map)