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Hartmann Schedel:  Basilea

Maps of Switzerland

Title: Basilea

Map Maker: Hartmann Schedel

Place / Date: Nuremberg / 1493

Coloring: Hand Colored

Size: 21 x 9 inches

Condition: VG

Price: SOLD

Inventory ID: 37928


Nice example of Hartmann Schedel's incunable view of Basel, from the Latin edition of Schedel's  Liber Chronicum, perhaps the single most influential secular illustrated book of the 15th Century and one of the landmark printed works of the 15th Century.

Schedel's view of Basel  is one of the earliest obtainable views of the city and the only large format 15th Century illustration of the City available to collectors.  

Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum: Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten (loosely transalated as World Chronicle, but popularly referred to as the Nuremberg Chronicle, based upon the city of its publication), was the first secular book to include the style of lavish illustrations previously reserved for Bibles and other liturgical works. The work was intended as a history of the World, from Creation to 1493, with a final section devoted to the anticipated Last Days of the World.   It is without question the most important illustrated secular work of the 15th Century and its importance rivals the early printed editions of Ptolemy's Geographia and Bernard von Breydenbach's Perengrinatio in Terram Sanctam in terms of its importance in the development and dissemination of illustrated books in the 15th Century.  Published in Nuremberg by Anton Koberger, the book was printed in Latin and 5 months later in German (translated by George Alt), and enjoyed immense commercial success.  A reduced size version of the book was published in 1497 in Augsburg by Johann  Schonsperger.   The illustration for Venice is adapted from the larger illustration of Venice in Breydenbach's Peregrinatio, which was illustrated by Dutch artist Erhard Reuwich, who was working in Mainz in the 1480s.  Schedel's view of Florence is one of the earliest obtainable views of the City and realistically the only large format 15th Century illustration available to collectors. The view is an adaptation of Francesco Rosselli's now lost six-sheet engraving of Florence, which is believed to have been engraved sometime between 1471 and 1482, known only through a  single woodcut copy in the Kupferstichkabinett of Berlin.  Rosselli is perhaps best known as the cartographer responsible for the Contarini-Rosselli World Map of 1506 (the first map to depict America, based upon information derived from Columbus) and his world map of 1508, the first depiction of the World in an Oval Projection, which includes a depiction of the Southern Continent which may have been the influence for the world maps of Piri Reis (1513), Lopo Homem (1519) and Juan Vespucci (1524).

Hartmann Schedel was a prominent physician and writer, who amassed one of the largest private book collections of the 15th Century.  Schedel's work is illustrated by over 1800 woodcut images by Michael Wohlgemut (1434–1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (1460–1494). Wohlgemut, an important painter and xylographer, is perhaps best known as having been an early teacher of Albrecht Durer, who apprenticed in Wohlgemut's workshop from 1486 to 1489. It is believed that Durer was involved in the production of several of the illustrations in Schedel's Liber Chronicarum, as work on the illustrations commenced during the period when Durer was apprenticing with Wohlegut and a study of several of the illustrations suggests they may have been drawn by Durer, who would have prepared the drawings used as forms for the craftsmen who cut the woodblocks.

While the majority of the illustrations in the book depict the various saints, royalty, nobles and clergyman of the period, the work is perhaps best known for the large format views of a number of the major European Cities, including Rome, Venice, Paris, Vienna, Florence, Genoa, Saltzburg, Crakow, Breslau, Budapest, Prague, and major cities in the Middle East, including Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantipole, as well as a number of cities in what would become the German Empire.   The work also included a magnificent double page map of the World, a large map of Europe and several famous illustrations, including the "Dance of Death," and scenes from the Creation and the Last Judgement. While many of the double-page city views are less than accurate illustrations of the cities as they existed at the end of the 15th Century, the illustrations are of great importance in the iconographic history of each of the cities depicted.   Some of the double-page views were also apparently offered separately for sale, including some which had been colored prior to sale.

In 1552, Schedel's grandson, Melchior Schedel, sold about 370 manuscripts and 600 printed works from Hartmann Schedel's library to Johann Jakob Fugger. Fugger later sold his library to Duke Albert V of Bavaria in 1571.  This library, one of the largest formed by an individual in the 15th century, is now mostly preserved in the Bayerische Staasbibliothek in Munich.  Among the surviving portions of Schedel's library are the records for the publication of the work, including Schedel's contract with Koberger for the publication and financing of the work by Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, as well as the contracts with Wohlgemut and Pleydenwurff for the original artworks and engravings.  The collection also includes the original manuscript copies of the work in Latin and German.

Related Categories:
City Plans & Views of European Cities
Maps of Switzerland

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