Sexta etas mundi. Page from Liber Chronicarum (The Nuremberg Chronicle) fol.CI.

Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, Hartmann Schedel

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

This is a page from Hartmann Schedel's <em>Chronicle of the World</em>, known as <em>The Nuremberg Chronicle</em>, published in 1493. It was then the most famous printed book of 15th century Europe after Gutenberg's Bible. It was commissioned by two Nuremberg aristocrats, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastien Kammermeister. To illustrate Schedel's text, which was the history of the world from the first day of creation until 1493, the patrons contracted the workshop run by Michael Wolgemut (1433/34-1519) and Wilelm Pleydenwurff (d. 1494). Wolgemut was Nuremberg's principal painter and printmaker of the late 15th century and also the young Albrecht Dürer's teacher, and Pleydenwurff was his stepson and partner.

Schedel (1440-1514) was a wealthy Nuremberg landowner and humanist, while the printer and publisher, Anton Koberger, the owner of the largest printing, publishing and bookselling house in Europe (he was also Dürer's godfather and early patron). <em>The Nuremberg Chronicle</em> was a massive publishing project with 645 woodblocks and total of 1809 woodcuts, a large run of 1000 copies in the Latin edition and 1500 in the German edition; it was widely marketed throughout Europe and sold very well.

This recto (facing page) of folio (page) CI of the Chronicle is purely devoted to text, printed in letterpress Latin. It addresses the sixth and most recent age of the world, hence the Latin title. The text describes the history of Nuremberg, and in particular important events of the 12th century, taking this up to its present (1493) glory. The verso (reverse) comprises a large woodcut, which is a grandiose, symbolic depiction of Christ and his Apostles. These represent "the foundation of the holy militant Church upon which the entire superstructure securely rests [consisting] of the holy apostles, whom God chose as the first sacrifice for the salvation of all the people. They are the basic pillars of the Church, upon which rests that foundation of which Christ is the chief corner-stone; and without these no one can lay any other foundation. Thus the truth, formerly proclaimed by the law and the prophets, was now apostolically trumpeted forth for the salvation of the entire world."

See: Morse Library, Beloit College, Nuremberg Chronicle: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=nur;cc=nur;view=text;idno=nur.001.0004;rgn=div2;node=nur.001.0004 %3A8.14

Dr Mark Stocker    Curator, Historical International Art         March 2017


  • Title: Sexta etas mundi. Page from Liber Chronicarum (The Nuremberg Chronicle) fol.CI.
  • Creator: Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (artist) | Schedel Hartmann (author) | Anton Koberger (publisher)
  • Physical Dimensions: sheet: 310mm (width), 456mm (height)
  • Provenance: Purchased 2009
  • Subject Keywords: People associated with religion | saints | Jesus Christ | Northern Renaissance
  • Rights: No Known Copyright Restrictions
  • External Link: Te Papa Collections Online
  • Medium: letterpress with red ink capitals and highlights and woodcut
  • Depicted Person: Jesus Christ
  • Registration ID: 2009-0011-2

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