By Mary Abbe
If you’re curious about that Albrecht Dürer print that pops up on page 263 in “The Lost Symbol,” Dan Brown’s latest bestseller, you can hop over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and find it hanging in Gallery 316. Tom Rassieur, the museum’s print curator, said he hasn’t yet read the book but got a tip that Dürer’s 1514 image “Melencolia I” plays a role in the plot, so he got it out of storage and hung it.
The engraving shows a grumpy looking angel working with a compass, surrounded by carpenter’s tools, with a dog at his feet, a sulky putti at his side and a square of “magic numbers” above his head. The four numbers in each line always add up to 34 -- vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The numbers help Brown’s hero, the Harvard “symbologist” Robert Langdon, to decipher the book’s mystery.
“Durer is easily among the greatest artists of all time and a real favorite of mine,” said Rassieur. “That print is rife with symbols but I think it’s also a psychological self-portrait that expresses the frustration of a creative genius whose mind can travel the heavens the way the comet does in the upper corner, but he’s limited to the physical world in what he makes.” But what does Langdon think?