This celebrated work contains 118 woodcut medallion portraits of the Roman and Roman-German emperors from Julius Caesar to Charles V. The woodcut borders surrounding the portraits are the largest ever cut for a book from a single block. The reverse of each portrait features the biography of the emperor depicted, within a woodcut border of putti, fruit, grotesques and arabesque ornaments. The first German edition of this book was published in 1558 by Gessner.
Jacobus Strada (1507-88) was an Italian polymath who served as the official artist and architect to three Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors. He also worked as a goldsmith, numismatist, writer, merchant and collector; his collection of medals minted with the portraits of emperors was used in the production of the present work.
Andreas Gessner (1482 – 1568) was the son of a goldsmith from Nuremberg, but moved to Zurich at the beginning of the XVI century in order to open a workshop. The arabesque ornaments decorating this publication were created by Peter Flötner (see his monogram on verso, plate 50) and had been previously published in Kunstbuch (Zurich, 1549). Flötner died in 1546 before either publication was produced, and this date is printed at the top of the plinth on which the medallions are mounted on several of the plates (see, for example, plate 14). The title, within a woodcut border, was made by Christoph Schweitzer.
Large folio. Title within woodcut vignette, 118 full-page woodcut medallion portraits by Rudolf Wyssenbach after Rudolf Manuel Deutsch, each within architectural woodcut border, pp. 128 text within woodcut boards, more than 100 figurative initials and ornamental grotesque decorations by Peter Flötner. Contemporary vellum; neat repairs, soiled, internally clean and fresh.
Provenance: E.F. von Leutrum, from the Swabian noble family Leutram von Ertingen (manuscript ownership inscription ‘Me possidet E.F. von Leutrum 1717’).
VD 16 I 98; Adams S 1957; Leemann/van Elck (Gessner) 57.
Stock ID: 89615