The Earliest Obtainable View of Florence, Italy
Finely colored example of Hartmann Schedel's incunable view of Florence, from Schedel's Liber Chronicum, perhaps the single most influential secular illustrated book of the 15th Century and one of the landmark printed works of the 15th century.
Schedel's view of Florence is one of the earliest obtainable views of the City and realistically the only large format 15th Century illustration available to collectors. The view is an adaptation of Francesco Rosselli's now lost six-sheet engraving of Florence, which is believed to have been engraved sometime between 1471 and 1482, known only through a single woodcut copy in the Kupferstichkabinett of Berlin. Rosselli is perhaps best known as the cartographer responsible for the Contarini-Rosselli World Map of 1506 (the first map to depict America, based upon information derived from Columbus) and his world map of 1508, the first depiction of the World in an Oval Projection, which includes a depiction of the Southern Continent which may have been the influence for the world maps of Piri Reis (1513), Lopo Homem (1519) and Juan Vespucci (1524).
Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) was a physician, book collector, and writer whose most famous work, the Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle), included some of the first printed views of many cities in Europe and across the world.
Schedel was born and died in Nuremberg, but he also traveled for his education. From 1456 to 1463 he lived in Leipzig, where he attended the University of Leipzig and earned his MA. From there he went to Padua, where he earned a Doctor of Medicine in 1466. After university, he worked for a time in Nördlingen and then returned to Nuremberg. In 1482 he was elected a member of the Great Council of Nuremberg.
The Chronicle was published in 1493. Besides this major work, one of Schedel’s most enduring legacies is his magnificent manuscript and printed book collection, one of the largest of the fifteenth century. In 1552, Schedel's grandson, Melchior Schedel, sold about 370 manuscripts and 600 printed works from Hartmann Schedel's library to Johann Jakob Fugger. Fugger later sold his library to Duke Albert V of Bavaria in 1571. This library is now mostly preserved in the Bayerische Staasbibliothek in Munich.
Among the surviving portions of Schedel's library are the records for the publication of the Chronicle, including Schedel's contract with Anton Koberger for the publication of the work and the financing of the work by Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, as well as the contracts with Wohlgemut and Pleydenwurff for the original artworks and engravings. The collection also includes original manuscript copies of the work in Latin and German.