Nuremberg Chronicle

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Nuremberg Chronicle
Nuremberg chronicles - Nuremberga.png
Woodcut of Nuremberg, Nuremberg Chronicle
AuthorHartmann Schedel
Original titleLiber Chronicarum
IllustratorMichael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff
LanguageLatin; German
SubjectHistory of the world
Published1493, Anton Koberger
Pages336

The Nuremberg Chronicle is an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible; it includes the histories of a number of important Western cities. Written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel, with a version in German, translation by Georg Alt, it appeared in 1493. It is one of the best-documented early printed books—an incunabulum—and one of the first to successfully integrate illustrations and text.

A biblical paraphrase is a literary work which has as its goal, not the translation of the Bible, but rather, the rendering of the Bible into a work that retells all or part of the Bible in a manner that accords with a particular set of theological or political doctrines. Such works "weave with ease and without self-consciousness, in and out of material from the volume we know between hard covers as the Bible ...(bringing it) into play with disparate sources, religious practices, and (prayers)."

Hartmann Schedel German cartographer

Hartmann Schedel was a German physician, humanist, historian, and one of the first cartographers to use the printing press. He was born and died in Nuremberg. Matheolus Perusinus served as his tutor.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Contents

Latin scholars refer to it as Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles) as this phrase appears in the index introduction of the Latin edition. English-speakers have long referred to it as the Nuremberg Chronicle after the city in which it was published. German-speakers refer to it as Die Schedelsche Weltchronik (Schedel's World History) in honour of its author.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Production

Two Nuremberg merchants, Sebald Schreyer (1446–1503) and his son-in-law, Sebastian Kammermeister (1446–1520), commissioned the Latin version of the chronicle. They also commissioned George Alt (1450–1510), a scribe at the Nuremberg treasury, to translate the work into German. Both Latin and German editions were printed by Anton Koberger, in Nuremberg. [1] The contracts were recorded by scribes, bound into volumes, and deposited in the Nuremberg City Archives. [2] The first contract, from December, 1491, established the relationship between the illustrators and the patrons. Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff, the painters, were to provide the layout of the chronicle, to oversee the production of the woodcuts, and to guard the designs against piracy. The patrons agreed to advance 1000 gulden for paper, printing costs, and the distribution and sale of the book. A second contract, between the patrons and the printer, was executed in March 1492. It stipulated conditions for acquiring the paper and managing the printing. The blocks and the archetype were to be returned to the patrons once the printing was completed. [3]

Guilder monetary unit

Guilder is the English translation of the Dutch and German gulden, originally shortened from Middle High German guldin pfenninc "gold penny". This was the term that became current in the southern and western parts of the Holy Roman Empire for the Fiorino d'oro. Hence, the name has often been interchangeable with florin.

A typical opening, uncoloured Schedelsche Weltchronik d 122.jpg
A typical opening, uncoloured

The author of the text, Hartmann Schedel, was a medical doctor, humanist and book collector. He earned a doctorate in medicine in Padua in 1466, then settled in Nuremberg to practice medicine and collect books. According to an inventory done in 1498, Schedel's personal library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books. The author used passages from the classical and medieval works in this collection to compose the text of Chronicle. He borrowed most frequently from another humanist chronicle, Supplementum Chronicarum, by Jacob Philip Foresti of Bergamo. It has been estimated that about 90% of the text is pieced together from works on humanities, science, philosophy, and theology, while about 10% of the chronicle is Schedel's original composition. [4]

Padua Comune in Veneto, Italy

Padua is a city and comune in Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 214,000. The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) which has a population of c. 2,600,000.

Nuremberg Place in Bavaria, Germany

Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German federal state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 511,628 (2016) inhabitants make it the 14th largest city in Germany. On the Pegnitz River and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it lies in the Bavarian administrative region of Middle Franconia, and is the largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia. Nuremberg forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring cities of Fürth, Erlangen and Schwabach with a total population of 787,976 (2016), while the larger Nuremberg Metropolitan Region has approximately 3.5 million inhabitants. The city lies about 170 kilometres (110 mi) north of Munich. It is the largest city in the East Franconian dialect area.

Nuremberg was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire in the 1490s, with a population of between 45,000 and 50,000. Thirty-five patrician families comprised the City Council. The Council controlled all aspects of printing and craft activities, including the size of each profession and the quality, quantity and type of goods produced. Although dominated by a conservative aristocracy, Nuremberg was a centre of northern humanism. Anton Koberger, printer of the Nuremberg Chronicle, printed the first humanist book in Nuremberg in 1472. Sebald Shreyer, one of the patrons of the chronicle, commissioned paintings from classical mythology for the grand salon of his house. Hartmann Schedel, author of the chronicle, was an avid collector of both Italian Renaissance and German humanist works. Hieronymus Münzer, who assisted Schedel in writing the chronicle's chapter on geography, was among this group, as were Albrecht Dürer and Johann and Willibald Pirckheimer. [2]

Anton Koberger German printer

Anton Koberger was the German goldsmith, printer and publisher who printed and published the Nuremberg Chronicle, a landmark of incunabula, and was a successful bookseller of works from other printers. He established in 1470 the first printing house in Nuremberg.

Hieronymus Münzer or Monetarius was a Renaissance humanist, physician and geographer who made a famous grand tour of the Iberian peninsula in 1494–5. He was co-author of the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Albrecht Dürer German Renaissance artist

Albrecht Dürer sometimes spelt in English as Durer or Duerer, without umlaut, was a painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance. Born in Nuremberg, Dürer established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He was in communication with the major Italian artists of his time, including Raphael, Giovanni Bellini and Leonardo da Vinci, and from 1512 he was patronized by Emperor Maximilian I. Dürer is commemorated by both the Lutheran and Episcopal Churches.

Publication

Catching a "lion fish" - a small illustration from a Latin copy. Note the red capital done in pen and ink, and the doodle in the margin below Nuremberg chronicles - Bottom of Page (CCXVIIv).jpg
Catching a "lion fish" - a small illustration from a Latin copy. Note the red capital done in pen and ink, and the doodle in the margin below

The Chronicle was first published in Latin on 12 July 1493 in the city of Nuremberg. This was quickly followed by a German translation on 23 December 1493. An estimated 1400 to 1500 Latin and 700 to 1000 German copies were published. A document from 1509 records that 539 Latin versions and 60 German versions had not been sold. Approximately 400 Latin and 300 German copies survived into the twenty-first century. [5] The larger illustrations were also sold separately as prints, often hand-coloured in watercolour. Many copies of the book are coloured, with varying degrees of skill; there were specialist shops for this. The colouring on some examples has been added much later, and some copies have been broken up for sale as decorative prints.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Old master print paper illustration by woodcut, engraving or etching

An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition. The term remains current in the art trade, and there is no easy alternative in English to distinguish the works of "fine art" produced in printmaking from the vast range of decorative, utilitarian and popular prints that grew rapidly alongside the artistic print from the 15th century onwards. Fifteenth-century prints are sufficiently rare that they are classed as old master prints even if they are of crude or merely workmanlike artistic quality. A date of about 1830 is usually taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term.

The publisher and printer was Anton Koberger, the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, who in the year of Dürer's birth in 1471 ceased goldsmithing to become a printer and publisher. He quickly became the most successful publisher in Germany, eventually owning 24 printing presses and having many offices in Germany and abroad, from Lyon to Buda. [6]

Contents

The Fifth day of creation Nuremberg chronicles - f 4v.png
The Fifth day of creation

The chronicle is an illustrated world history, in which the contents are divided into seven ages:

Illustrations

Page depicting Constantinople with added hand-colouring Schedel konstantinopel.jpg
Page depicting Constantinople with added hand-colouring

The large workshop of Michael Wolgemut, then Nuremberg's leading artist in various media, provided the unprecedented 1,809 woodcut illustrations (before duplications are eliminated; see below). Sebastian Kammermeister and Sebald Schreyer financed the printing in a contract dated March 16, 1492, although preparations had been well under way for several years. Wolgemut and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff were first commissioned to provide the illustrations in 1487-88, and a further contract of December 29, 1491, commissioned manuscript layouts of the text and illustrations.

Albrecht Dürer was an apprentice with Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489, so may well have participated in designing some of the illustrations for the specialist craftsmen (called "formschneiders") who cut the blocks, onto which the design had been drawn, or a drawing glued. From 1490 to 1494 Dürer was travelling. A drawing by Wolgemut for the elaborate frontispiece, dated 1490, is in the British Museum.

As with other books of the period, many of the woodcuts, showing towns, battles or kings were used more than once in the book, with the text labels merely changed; one count of the number of original woodcuts is 645. [7] The book is large, with a double-page woodcut measuring about 342 x 500mm. [6] Only the city of Nuremberg is given a double-page illustration with no text. The illustration for the city of Venice is adapted from a much larger woodcut of 1486 by Erhard Reuwich in the first illustrated printed travel book, the Sanctae Perigrinationes of 1486. This and other sources were used where possible; where no information was available a number of stock images were used and reused up to eleven times. The view of Florence was adapted from an engraving by Francesco Rosselli. [8]

Colored woodcut town view of Florence Colored woodcut town view of Florence.jpg
Colored woodcut town view of Florence

Related Research Articles

Incunable book, pamphlet, or broadside that was printed before the year 1501 in Europe

An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum, is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before the year 1501. Incunabula are not manuscripts, documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant, but the probable number of surviving copies in Germany alone is estimated at around 125,000.

Schwabacher typeface

The German word Schwabacher refers to a specific blackletter typeface which evolved from Gothic Textualis (Textura) under the influence of Humanist type design in Italy during the 15th century. Schwabacher typesetting was the most common typeface in Germany, until it was replaced by Fraktur from the mid 16th century onwards.

Michael Wolgemut German painter and printmaker

Michael Wolgemut was a German painter and printmaker, who ran a workshop in Nuremberg. He is best known as having taught the young Albrecht Dürer.

German Renaissance cultural and artistic movement, part of the Northern Renaissance

The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which developed from the Italian Renaissance. Many areas of the arts and sciences were influenced, notably by the spread of Renaissance humanism to the various German states and principalities. There were many advances made in the fields of architecture, the arts, and the sciences. Germany produced two developments that were to dominate the 16th century all over Europe: printing and the Protestant Reformation.

Sebald Beham German artist

Sebald Beham (1500–1550) was a German painter and printmaker, mainly known for his very small engravings. Born in Nuremberg, he spent the later part of his career in Frankfurt. He was one of the most important of the "Little Masters", the group of German artists making prints in the generation after Dürer.

Willibald Pirckheimer German humanist

Willibald Pirckheimer was a German Renaissance lawyer, author and Renaissance humanist, a wealthy and prominent figure in Nuremberg in the 16th century, and a member of the governing City Council for two periods. He was the closest friend of the artist Albrecht Dürer, who made a number of portraits of him, and a close friend of the great humanist and theologian Erasmus.

Erhard Reuwich Dutch artist

Erhard Reuwich was a Dutch artist, as a designer of woodcuts, and a printer, who came from Utrecht but then worked in Mainz. His dates and places of birth and death are unknown, but he was active in the 1480s.

Hans Pleydenwurff German artist

Hans Pleydenwurff was a German painter.

Theodericus Ulsenius, the Latin version of the Frisian Dirk van Ulsen, was a Renaissance humanist and physician. Born in Zwolle, in the present-day Netherlands, he spent much of his career in Germany; his career took him to Nuremberg, Augsburg, Mainz, Freiburg, and Cologne. In Nuremberg he knew the humanists Konrad Celtis and Sebald Schreyer and consequently came into contact with Hartmann Schedel and the artist Albrecht Dürer.

<i>Triumphal Arch</i> (woodcut) 16th-century monumental woodcut print

The Triumphal Arch is a 16th-century monumental woodcut print, commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The composite image was printed on 36 large sheets of paper from 195 separate wood blocks. At 295 × 357 centimetres (116 × 141 in), it is one of the largest prints ever produced, and was intended to be pasted to walls in city halls or the palaces of princes. It is part of a series of three huge prints created for Maximilian, the others being a Triumphal Procession which is led by a Large Triumphal Carriage ; only the Arch was completed in Maximilian's lifetime and distributed as propaganda, as he intended. Together, this series has been described by art historian Hyatt Mayor as "Maximilian's program of paper grandeur". They stand alongside two published biographical allegories in verse, the Theuerdank and Weisskunig, heavily illustrated with woodcuts.

Hans Springinklee German engraver

Hans Springinklee was a German artist from Nuremberg, best known for his woodcuts. He was a pupil of Albrecht Dürer.

<i>Apocalypse</i> (Dürer) series of fifteen woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer

The Apocalypse, properly Apocalypse with Pictures is a famous series of fifteen woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer of scenes from the Book of Revelation, published in 1498, which rapidly brought him fame across Europe. The series was probably cut on pear wood blocks and drew on theological advice, particularly from Johannes Pirckheimer, the father of Dürer's friend Willibald Pirckheimer. Work on the series started during Dürer's first trip to Italy (1494–95), and the set was published simultaneously in Latin and German at Nuremberg in 1498, at a time when much of Europe anticipated a possible Last Judgment at 1500. The most famous print in the series is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, referring to Revelation 6:1–8. The layout of the cycle with the illustrations on the recto and the text on the verso suggests the privileging of the illustrations over the text. The series brought Dürer fame and wealth as well as some freedom from the patronage system, which, in turn, allowed him to choose his own subjects and to devote more time to engraving. In 1511, Dürer published the second edition of Apocalypse in a combined edition with his Life of the Virgin and Large Passion; single impressions were also produced and sold.

Hieronymus Andreae German woodblock cutter, printer and publisher

Hieronymus Andreae, or Andreä, or Hieronymus Formschneider, was a German woodblock cutter ("formschneider"), printer, publisher and typographer closely associated with Albrecht Dürer. Andreae's best known achievements include the enormous, 192-block Triumphal Arch woodcut, designed by Dürer for Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and his design of the characteristic German "blackletter" Fraktur typeface, on which German typefaces were based for several centuries. He was also significant as a printer of music.

<i>Self-Portrait</i> (Dürer, Munich) portrait by Albrecht Dürer in the Alte Pinakothek

Self-Portrait is a panel painting by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. Painted early in 1500, just before his 29th birthday, it is the last of his three painted self-portraits. Art historians consider it the most personal, iconic and complex of his self-portraits.

<i>Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon</i> print by Albrecht Dürer

Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon is a woodcut of 1498 by Albrecht Dürer, part of his Apocalypse series, illustrating the Book of Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John.

<i>Large Triumphal Carriage</i> engraving by Albrecht Dürer

The Large Triumphal Carriage or Great Triumphal Car is a large 16th-century woodcut print by Albrecht Dürer, commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The work was originally intended to be the central part of a 54 metres (177 ft) long print of a Triumphal Procession or Triumph of Maximilian, depicting Maximilian and his court entourage in a procession.

Erhard Schön German engraver (c.1491-1542)

Erhard Schön was a German woodcut designer and painter.

References

  1. Cambridge Digital Library, University of Cambridge, http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/PR-INC-00000-A-00007-00002-00888/1
  2. 1 2 WIlson, Adrian. The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle. Amsterdam: A. Asher & Co. 1976
  3. Landau, David and Peter Parshall. The Renaissance Print, 1470–1550. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994
  4. "About this book - Author", Beloit College Morse Library, 2003
  5. "About this book - Latin and German Editions", Beloit College Morse Library
  6. 1 2 Giulia Bartrum, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, British Museum Press, 2002, pp. 94-96, ISBN   0-7141-2633-0
  7. A.), McPhee, John (John; NSW., Museums and Galleries. Great Collections: treasures from Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, Botanic Gardens Trust, Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, Powerhouse Museum, State Library of NSW, State Records NSW. Museums & Galleries NSW. p. 37. ISBN   9780646496030. OCLC   302147838.
  8. A Hyatt Mayor, Prints and People, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Princeton, 1971, nos 43 & 173. ISBN   0-691-00326-2