Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle), 1493
Author: Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514)
Illustrators: Michael Wolgemut (German, 1434/37–1519) and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (German, ca. 1460–1494)
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1493
Printed book with woodcut illustrations; Bound volume: 17 3/4 x 12 3/4 in. (45.2 x 32.5 cm)
George Khuner Collection, Gift of Mrs. George Khuner, 1981 (1981.1178.29)
One of the most famous early illustrated books, this ambitious text chronicles the history of the world, from the Creation to 1493, with a final section devoted to the anticipated Last Days of the World. It was illustrated with more than 1,000 woodcuts designed by the talented German artists Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, with the assistance of their studio apprentices, among whom was the young Albrecht Dürer.
Here, with Folio 9v and 10r, we see the tree of Adam, one of the numerous genealogical trees that ornament the book. In many cases, the same woodblocks are used for the lively little figures and only the names beneath them are changed. Within circles formed by the curling branches of the tree, episodes from the lives of Adam's sons are narrated. In one illustration, Cain makes his offering of grain to God, while Abel offers meat in another. In a third scene, Cain murders his brother out of jealousy, because God had preferred the meat offering.