Click to view higher-resolution image


St. Jerome (c. 345–420).
Liber Epistolarum sancti Hieronymi.
Basel: Nicolaus Kesler, 1497.

Dürer’s first verified book illustration, a woodcut of St. Jerome removing a thorn from a lion’s paw, was published in Basel by Nicolaus Kesler in 1492. The original woodblock bearing Dürer’s ink signature is still preserved in Basel. Carved by a local Formschneider (woodblock cutter), Dürer’s composition exerted considerable influence on frontispiece illustration in the region. For Kesler’s second edition of St Jerome’s letters, exhibited here, Dürer’s design was transferred to a fresh woodblock. The anonymous cutter skillfully reproduced the earlier work in virtually every detail, including Dürer’s unprecedented rendering of the three books bearing versions of Genesis 1:1 – the Hebrew Pentateuch, the Greek Septuagint, and St. Jerome’s own Latin translation.