Religious Imagery

A spectacularly illustrated text, the Nuremberg Chronicle is one of the first printed books to successfully integrate images into the page design. As a world history based on the Bible, the chronicle includes numerous biblical images from Creation to the Last Judgement.

The first five books or ages of man depict scenes from the Old Testament. Below is the first image from the Creation sequence which features God's hand in the top left corner and then scenes of the seven days of creation encapsulated in a circle. From the second age, we have Noah's ark and the rainbow. Note that the figures in the images are in European dress and look German rather than Middle Eastern. This bias toward European appearance is maintained throughout the text. From the third age is an illustration of Moses and the burning bush. Moses is drawn with horns based on Jerome's mistranslation from Hebrew to Latin. Moses was said to have radiated light from his face, but this same word, "qeren," was translated to "cornuta" or growing horns. This unfortunate mistranslation was applied to medieval and renaissance depictions of Moses including Michelangelo's famous Moses statue.

Beginning with the sixth age, the lives of the apostles, Jesus' disciples, and saints and martyrs are portrayed. Below are images of the martyrdom of Simon the Apostle and Matthias the Apostle, Petronella, Lazarus, Luke the evangelist, Evax King of Arabia, and the ascension of Mary Magdelene. Mary Magdelene retreated to the desert to become a hermit. She is iconically depicted with long hair. Having no clothing her hair grew to cover her from head to toe.

The chronicle concludes with the seventh age of man and the end of the world. Below are images of the Antichrist and the Last Judgement. There was a long tradition of calling the pope the Antichrist and the illustration in the Nuremberg Chronicle follows that artistic tradition.

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Schedel, Hartmann 1440-1514, Schmauch, Walter W., Hadavas, Kosta. First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel… Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center,
2010.

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Liber chronicarum

Beginning of the creation sequence

Liber chronicarum

Noah's ark

Liber chronicarum

Moses and the burning bush

Liber chronicarum

Ascension of Mary Magdelene

Liber chronicarum

Jesus and the apostles

Liber chronicarum

The Antichrist

Liber chronicarum

The Last Judgement