16th century armour: the world's first illustrated museum catalogue

Schrenck von Notzing, Jakob. Der Aller Durchleuchtigisten und Großmächtigen Kayser [...] Königen und Ertzhertzogen [...] warhafftige Bildtnussen, und kurtze Beschreibungen ihrer [...] taten und handlungen. Deren Waffen und Rüstungen [...] in der weytberühmbten Rüstkammer [...] in dem fürstlichen Schloß Ambraß [...] auffbehalten werden [...]".

Innsbruck, Daniel Baur, (1603).

Folio (348 x 492). (5), (121 [instead of 125]) ff. (= printed title within woodcut border; engraved portrait of Ferdinand II of Tyrol, Archduke of Austria; 3 ff. of preface; 121 engraved portraits by Domenicus Custos after Giovanni Fontana with letterpress text on versos within woodcut borders). Contemporary blindstamped pigskin.


First German edition. Ostensibly a series of portraits of military nobles from the 15th and 16th centuries from all across Europe, this is in fact a magnificent catalogue of the collection of arms and armour owned by Archduke Ferdinand (1529-95) at Ambras Castle near Innsbruck, which had been collected by previous generations of Habsburg rulers and greatly expanded by Ferdinand with the help of his secretary, Schrenck von Notzing, who edited the work at the commission of his lord. First published in Latin by Agricola in 1601, it is considered the world's first illustrated museum catalogue, most notable for the representation of the military costumes of some of the protagonists.

All portraits are engraved within splendid, richly decorated architectural borders; even the biographical text is enclosed within a four-part woodcut border. Lacks the portraits of the Muslim statesmen Sultan Soliman and Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, as well as those of the military leader Ulrich von Schellenberg and the Polish-Lithuanian Prince Mikolaj Krzysztof Radziwill. Binding slightly rubbed and insignificantly wormed in places. A few short marginal tears to paper, occasional spotting and light staining.

An impressive presentation of the famous Ambras armoury, rarely seen at auction.


VD 17 23:266204Y. Lipperheide Ci 1. Colas 2691. Hiler 787 (note). Hollstein (German) VI, 182. Pelc, Illustrium Imagines, 140. Waldner, Tiroler Buchdr. 252, 100. Durstmüller I, 68 ("Paurs sog. Österreichisches Ehrenwerk - eine meisterhafte Leistung in gemischter Technik"). Graesse VI, I, 317.

Stock Code: BN#53186 Tags: , , , , ,