Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle), 1493
    Author: Hartmann Schedel (German, 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)

    Folio 9v and 10r

    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.

    This work of art also appears on Connections: Trees

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  • Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle), 1493
    Author: Hartmann Schedel (German, 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)

    Folio 52 verso and 53 recto

    In this representation of Rome, an attempt has been made to single out some of the many well-known landmarks of the city. In the foreground at far right is the Porta del Popolo, the entrance gate through which Northerners normally arrived. On the left side we see the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the column of Marcus Aurelius, then known as the Antonine Column. Behind these relatively intact ancient structures is a ruined theater, perhaps meant to represent the Theater of Marcellus. In front of this theater are the famous horsemen of the Quirinale hill, and beside them a large seated figure who is perhaps to be understood as the giant river god known in the Renaissance as Marforio, one of the "talking statues" of Rome. In the background, across the Tiber, the Castel Sant'Angelo can be identified by the angel at its summit. Behind is Old Saint Peter's, the Vatican, and the new Belvedere palace perched atop a hill. None of these monuments bears much resemblance to the actual sites and one has the impression that the artists relied primarily on verbal descriptions of the city and its marvels.

    Folio 99 verso and 100 recto

    Near the center of the Nuremberg Chronicle, the city of Nuremberg itself is represented, the only image to fill an entire double-page spread. While many of the cities discussed in the book are illustrated with generic views, printed from a limited number of blocks, Nuremberg has been depicted in considerable detail. Although undoubtedly distorted in terms of perspective and scale, the view can be recognized as taken from the south. The heavily fortified city is dominated by its castle, and the most famous churches and many of the city's towers stand out clearly. In the right foreground we see the Pegnitz River, whose abundant current powered the first German paper mill, established around 1390. At left, an elaborate fence controls the flow of traffic into the city, while the gallows dominates the central foreground.

    Folio 108 recto

    In a section of the chronicle devoted to the lives and martyrdoms of the saints, we see the evangelist Luke, patron saint of painters, seated before his portrait of the Virgin and Child. In the illustration at the bottom of the page, the penitent Magdalene, having abandoned a life of luxury for a hermitage in the wilderness, experiences her daily levitation.


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