Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
A pictorial history of the Earth from the Creation to the 1490s, compiled by Dr Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). The painter and engraver Michael Wohlgemuth (1434-1519), his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and his pupil Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) produced over 600 woodcuts for this book. The illustrations were of a wide variety of subjects, including biblical scenes, family trees, portraits, and fabulous or legendary creatures. However, the principal illustrations were maps of the world, Germany and central Europe, along with 99 views of towns and cities. Most of these views were entirely imaginary, and about half of them used the same 14 woodblocks; however, the double-page views of cities, of which there are 32, were based on contemporary illustrations and information, and attempted to portray realistic images of the cities shown.
Shown here is a depiction of the Garden of Eden which accurately reflects the description given in the Book of Genesis. The woodcut shows both the temptation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden. Eve can be seen plucking fruit from an apple tree which symbolises the Tree of Knowledge. Flanking this tree is a date palm and a dragon tree, the latter of which represented the Tree of Life, and, despite its exotic origins, is commonly found in sacred art of the later Middle Ages, likely to enchance the exotic nature of the Garden.