Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514).
Das Bůch der Cronicken.
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 23 Dec. 1493.
The most extensively illustrated book of the fifteenth century was the “Nuremberg Chronicle,” issued in Latin and German editions. Also published by Dürer’s godfather, this history of the world from its creation to the year 1493 included 1,809 woodcut illustrations produced from 645 different blocks. These images were mainly the work of Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, although some have been attributed to Dürer, who had served as Wolgemut’s apprentice from 1486 to 1489.
While later chapters used smaller woodcuts and began to repeat certain blocks for illustrations of various popes, rulers, and councils, the scenes illustrating the Genesis story were among Wolgemut’s largest and most ambitious designs. The exhibited opening shows the Creation of Eve on the left and the Expulsion from Paradise on the right. The latter image is divided into two episodes, with Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit shortly before the angel expels them for their sin. Two exotic trees, the date palm at the center and the bulbous “dragon tree” to the extreme right, were inspired by the botanically accurate depictions of these tropical species in an engraving by Martin Schongauer; both trees would later appear in a woodcut in Dürer’s Life of the Virgin depicting the Flight into Egypt.