We recently added a very special item to our inventory- a beautiful World Map woodcut, published in 1493 . This fine “old world” map appeared in Hartmann Schedel’s “The Nuremberg Chronicle.” It is the last great Ptolemaic map of the world to appear before dissemination of Columbus’ discoveries in the New World.
The map is surrounded by twelve wind heads which together are held aloft by Noah’s three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japhet. To the left is a panel of seven strange creatures. On the verso are fourteen additional images of these strange creatures. These humanoid creatures were thought to inhabit the furthermost parts of the earth and were based on classical writings and accounts of medieval travelers’ tales.
The first edition of the “The Nuremberg Chronicle” was printed in July, 1493 in Latin. Another issue with German text was printed in December of the same year. This is an example of the first state with Latin text. “The Nuremberg Chronicle” is an illustrated history of the world from creation to its publication in 1493. It is considered to be one of the most elaborate printed books of its time, illustrated with over 1,800 woodcut illustrations. There are a number of double-page city views, the world map, and another map of northern and central Europe in the book.
Hartmann Schedel, a physician in Nuremberg, was the editor of this work. The printer was Anton Koberger, who employed the master engravers, Michael Wolgemut and Hanns Pleydenwurff. Albrecht Durer served an apprenticeship in Koberger’s shop. He was Durer’s godfather, and it has been suggested by some that it is possible that he engraved a number of the scenes for this work.
This map is now for sale and on view at our Georgetown gallery. We urge our readers to stop by and see this map in person! We also have several smaller town and village scenes from the Nuremberg Chronicles- which were featured in our 2011 summer woodcut show- Director’s Cut. If you want to know more about the history of woodcuts, check out our blog post here.