Nürnberg Chronicle

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Nürnberg Chronicle

The Nürnberg Chronicle is one of the finest examples of book design and production in the history of printing. This heavily illustrated work relates the history of the world, beginning with the biblical account of its creation and continuing up through the 1400s. Although later works outshone the Nürnberg Chronicle in terms of content, the text remains significant for its images and graphic design. Humanist* and doctor Hartmann Schedel assembled the work and had it published in Nürnberg, Germany, in 1493. As Latin was the language of scholars at the time, the text appeared in Latin as well as in a German translation. Anton Koberger, one of the best printers of scholarly works in the 1400s, produced approximately 1,500 copies of the Latin edition and 1,000 copies in German.

The Nürnberg Chronicle contained more than 1,800 illustrations printed from 645 woodcuts*. At the time, this was the largest number of woodcuts that had ever appeared in a printed book. The images, which the young artist Albrecht DÜrer helped to create as an apprentice*, were of high quality. They included portrayals of major events from the Old and New Testaments, stories from the lives of saints, portraits of famous rulers, and maps and images of cities.

(See alsoPrinting and Publishing. )

* humanist

Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)

* woodcut

print made from a block of wood with an image carved into it

* apprentice

person bound by legal agreement to work for another for a specified period of time in return for instruction in a trade or craft