The Portland Vase, £5.00
Height: 548.000 mm
Width: 800.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
The Battle of Zonchio (Navarino), woodcut coloured using stencils
Italy, around AD 1499
Ferdinand Columbus owned an impression of this print
The battle shown here was fought in August 1499 off Zonchio, north of Navarino (Peloponnese). The combatants were a Turkish vessel commanded by Kemal Ali (shown standing on the deck of his ship), and two Venetian vessels commanded by Antonio Loredan and Albano d'Armer. The Turks were victorious; Loredan was killed when his ship was burnt, and Armer was taken as a prisoner to Istanbul, where he was sawn into pieces on the order of Bajazet II. This is possibly the first print of an actual naval battle.
The woodcut became the most important medium for producing images of topical interest and they were coloured using stencils so that many impressions could be produced quickly. This is the only impression of this print that survives but many must have been made. It comes from a famous album of early woodcuts that once belonged to Rudolph II in Prague.
An impression of this print was part of the now-lost collection of Ferdinand Columbus (1488-1539), son of Christopher Columbus. An inventory in Seville describes in careful detail 3,204 prints that once formed part of this outstanding library, which at the time of his death contained 15,000 volumes. Although Ferdinand's print collection has now vanished, the Seville inventory has allowed its partial reconstruction using other impressions of the prints from around the world.
M. McDonald, Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissanc (London, British Museum Press, 2005)