SCHEDEL, Hartmann (1440-1514)
[World map] Das ander alter der werlt
Nuremberg: 1493. Wood engraved world map, original hand colouring recto and verso. German text. Sheet size: 16 3/4 x 23 1/4 inches.
Schedel's map of the world, from the German edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle: one of the earliest obtainable world maps, here with very fine original hand colouring.
Schedel's map is one of the earliest obtainable world maps, and, visually, one of the most evocative of its period. Published just 40 years after the invention of printing, Schedel's map presents the world as seen just prior to Columbus' voyage. The engraving also reflects medieval attitudes toward peoples of distant lands, with grotesque creatures to the left of the map recto, and additional images on verso. Schedel's World map is based upon Ptolemy, omitting Scandinavia, southern Africa and the Far East, and depicting the Indian Ocean as landlocked. The depiction of the World is surrounded by the figures of Shem, Japhet and Ham, and the sons of Noah, who re-populated the Earth after the Flood. On the left, printed from a separate block, are pictures of various mythical creatures, based upon classical and early mediaeval travellers' accounts, including "a six-armed man, possibly based on a file of Hindu dancers so aligned that the front figure appears to have multiple arms; a six-fingered man, a centaur, a four-eyed man from a coastal tribe in Ethiopia; a dog-headed man from the Simien Mountains, a cyclops, one of those men whose heads grow beneath their shoulders, one of the crook-legged men who live in the desert and slide along instead of walking; a strange hermaphrodite, a man with one giant foot only (stated by Solinus to be used a parasol but more likely an unfortunate sufferer from elephantisis), a man with a huge underlip (doubtless seen in Africa), a man with waist-length hanging ears, and other frightening and fanciful creatures of a world beyond." The World map also includes a large island off the west coast of Africa, which may relate to the account of Martin Behaim's voyage to the region, which is referenced by Schedel in the text. Schedel's Liber Chronicarum: Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten (loosely translated 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. However, copies of either the Latin or German editions with original hand colouring are of the utmost rarity.
Nordenskiold, Facsimile Atlas, p. 38; Brown, The World Encompassed, # 44, plate XLL; Wilson's The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle; Shirley, Mapping of the World, No. 19, pl. 25.