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Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung von dem Babstumb
1527. PROPHECY AND PROPAGANDA SACHS, Hans and Andreas OSIANDER. Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung von dem Babstumb/ wie es yhm biss an das endt der welt gehen sol/in figuren oder gemael begriffen/gefunden zu Nuermberg/ym Cartheuser Closter/ und ist seher alt. 18 leaves (A-C4 D2 E4). Illustrated with 30 woodcuts by Erhard Schön, and cut by the formschneider Hieronymus Andrea. Each woodcut is fully and elegantly coloured by a contemporary South-German artisan. 4to., 199 x 144 mm, bound in nineteenth-century English brown morocco, covers with gilt-tooled intersecting bands of repeated quatrefoil design within double borders; armorial supra-libros on front and cipher on back of John Eliot Hodgkin. Nuremberg: Hans Guldemundt, 1527. |~||~||~||~||~| Extremely Rare First Edition. Both graphically and textually incendiary, this work provided a beacon in the Protestant "war of words" at the beginning phase of the Reformation. "It was an opening salvo in the anti-papal and anti-Catholic propaganda campaign waged by Nuremberg's Lutherans" (Smith, Nuremberg, A Renaissance City, p. 167). Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung von dem Babstumb ("A Wonderful Prophecy of the Papacy") represents a collaboration of several of the leading reformist figures in Nuremberg at the time; its publication was intended to provoke a sensation. And that it did. Andreas Osiander (1498-1552), preeminent theologian of Nuremberg and radical Rector of the church of St. Lorenz, oversaw the production of a corrected edition of the Vulgate Bible, 1522, and played a leading role at the First Diet of Nuremberg, also in 1522. He was later to achieve distinction as overseer of the publication of Copernicus. Osiander was at the heart of religious fervor in Nuremberg, the first German city to adopt Lutheranism. Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung is remarkable on several counts. First, the active involvement of the Meistersinger cobbler-poet Hans Sachs (1494-1576), who contributed paired rhyming couplets to each section, plus a lengthy concluding poem, brought a literary cachet and immediacy to the work. Each quatrain provides an abstract of Osiander's text, which references local history, church and imperial history, bestiary lore, Scripture citation, allegory, and eschatological drama. Hans Sachs' intention was clear: the papacy had become a gross parody of what it should be. Although Osiander's glosses steer the argument, even Osiander conceded that the power of the work was propelled by the woodcut images. The woodcuts are attributed on stylistic grounds to Erhard Schön (1491-1542). "Scholars have attributed some 1200 illustrations for 116 books and about two hundred separate woodcuts to Erhard Schön, making him one of the era's most prolific woodblock designers… He studied Albrecht Dürer's prints while living in the artist's house for several years… When Nuremberg--and Schön--adopted Lutheranism in the mid-1520s, Schön began designing woodcuts for anti-Catholic books and broadsheets. He designed broadsheets that spoofed current events and human nature and illustrated satirical poems by a Nuremberg poet. Much like modern editorial cartoons, these compositions were intended to amuse, outrage, or enlighten the public" (Getty.edu). Schön's woodcuts mark a departure in the illustration of the Pope Prophecies, which, as Haffner points out, had a long tradition in the genre of "visual prophecy." The woodcuts, though based on those of Joachim of Fiore, are more animated and instilled with new Reformation imagery. Of further significance, the publication inverted the Gregorian dictum of 'pictures are the Bible for the illiterate,' for, as Osiander states in the preface, the learned will be able to interpret these woodcut images directly, whereas explanations for the common man can be discovered in his text. A young Martin Luther dressed in his Augustinian black cassock is depicted on C4 verso, holding a sickle in one hand and a red rose in the other, standing beside a severed leg. Luther wrote to Osiander on 19 May 1527 in a letter which expressed his approval of the image and accompanying text. To be sure, the "common man" is at the core of the controversy surrounding this pamphlet. Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung would have circulated through inns and taverns, would have been posted in public places, and would have been read aloud in groups throughout Nuremberg. Hans Sachs' poems functioned as mnemonic devices, his pithy turn of phrase would have been hard to disregard. Thus, number nine "The Pope is in league with Satan, he is ruled through his prompting and whoever contradicts his teachings he is hunted and killed by him." Or number fourteen "Then God threatens him through his Word. The papal seat, which will be destroyed, as Paul clearly gives evidence, God will kill him through his mouth" (Haffner translations). Sachs reinforces the oral nature of the work with his ringing conclusion (from the Gospel of Matthew, 11 v 15) "Darumb wer oren hab der hoeer" (He that hath ears to hear, let him hear). Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung "immediately angered the Nuremberg city council, which was trying to mend its relationship with Emperor Charles V following its decision to break away from the Roman Catholic Church. On March 27, 1527 the city council ordered the confiscation of all copies of the book, (as well as the original woodblocks for Schön's illustrations) and Osiander was forbidden to publish any further works without the council's permission. The reprimand extended to Sachs and the publisher Guldenmundt, but interestingly no mention is made of Schön" (Smith, Nuremberg, A Renaissance City, p. 167). On March 28, the Nuremberg Council wrote to the Council of Frankfurt, asking them to confiscate all copies transported to the Frankfurt Book Fair and return them to Nuremberg. Due to the fact, as described above, that most copies of Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung were seized and destroyed by the Nuremberg authorities, the book is extremely rare. Such copies, like the exquisite coloured one offered herewith, have survived because they were beautifully coloured. The wealthy patron who could pay for such a copy, most likely refused to turn over this copy to the authorities, despite the official directive to do so. The copy in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg is a particularly fine example also with contemporary hand-colouring to the woodcuts, with which this copy compares favorably. No copy at auction as per ABPC in over 35 years. OCLC cites two editions printed in 1527, one in Nuremberg printed by Guldemundt with the Schön woodcuts and one with no place or printer (possibly Wittemberg) with different woodcuts. Of our edition, 5 copies listed in America: HRC Texas, Yale, Princeton, Library of Congress and Univ. of Wisconsin. PROVENANCE: John Eliot Hodgkin (1829-19120, with his coat-of-arms on front cover and his cipher on rear cover, his sale Sotheby's May 1914, Lot 1359. Hodgkin was the author of Rariora; being notes of some of the printed books, manuscripts, historical documents, medals, engravings, pottery, etc., collected (1858-1900); Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow, with ex-libris, their sale Christie's NY #2706, Lot 25. J.C. Smith, Nuremberg A Renaissance City, 1500-1618, No. 65. Landau and Parshall, The Renaissance Print 1470-1550, pp. 223-231. VD 16 W 4642. Muther, Die deutsche Bucherillustration der Gothik und Fruhrenaissance (1460-1530) 1146. Weller, Hans Sachs Bibliographie 216. Seebass, Bibliographia Osiandrica 11.1. See also: D.T. Haffner, Eyn wunderliche Weyssagung von dem Babstum: Mediaeval Prophecy into Reformation Propaganda, University of Pennsylvania, 1991; C. Andersson, Polemical prints during the Reformation, New York Public Library, p. 34-51; R.W. Scribner, For the sake of simple folk : popular propaganda for the German Reformation, pp. 142-147; A. Warburg, Heidnisch-antike Weissagung in Wort und Bild zu Luthers Zeiten, pp. 47-49.
      [Bookseller: Ursus Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-05-14           Check availability:      Biblio    

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