- Museum number
- Object: Scanta Iusticia
'Reformacion der Stat Nüremberg'; Second edition of a book on legal reforms printed in German with Gothic type by Friedrich Peypus in Nuremberg in 1522, with illuminated initials by Hans Springinklee and an illuminated woodcut by Dürer.
The woodcut is on the verso of the titlepage, depicting a coat of arms with two angels holding three shields, two of Nuremberg, and higher above the Imperial shield and crown, above this group two seated female angels bearing symbols of the four cardinal virtues of Justitia, Temperantia, Liberalitas, and Caritas, at the very top centre a tablet with the inscription 'Sancta Iusticia 1521'; with contemporary hand colouring and heightened with gold. 1521
- Production date
Height: 245 millimetres (woodcut)
Width: 166 millimetres (woodcut)
- Curator's comments
- The first edition was also printed by Friedrich Peypus, dated 20 January 1521.
This book contains various MS notes and additions, and it is bound in vellum and contains a stamp and an engraved ex-libris of the Royal Society.
The block of the woodcut is in Berlin (Derschau Collection).
Lit: G. Bartrum, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, BM exh.cat. 2002, no.161; D. Paisey, Catalogue of German Printed Books to 1900, The British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, London, 2002, no.299; D.Paisey,'Two new Dürers in London?' in 'Gutenberg-Jahrbuch', 2003, pp.31-44
Entry from Dürer and his Legacy:
'The title of the book refers to legal, not religious reform; the officially sanctioned Lutheran Reformation did not begin to be introduced into Nuremberg until 1525. Peypus was an important printer of humanist and theological works and had printed several works by Willibald Pirckheimer, who as a lawyer and a member of the City Council for two periods, would have played an important role in compiling the legal text for this book, although the principal author may have been Lazarus Spengler. This particular copy of Reformacion der Stat Nüremberg, an edition of the Nuremberg statutes printed by Friedrich Peypus in 1522, was originally in Pirckheimer's library. The bulk of Pirckheimer's books and manuscripts were sold by his heir, Hans Hieronymus Imhoff to Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel in 1636 and presented by Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk in 1667 to the Royal Society, of which there is an ex-libris in this copy.
Dürer's design is a modernised version of the frontispieces of two previous editions of the Nuremberg statutes published in 1484 (designed by his master Michel Wolgemut) and in 1503; both of which displayed the imperial arms and those of the city of Nuremberg with the patron saints of the city, St Sebald and St Lorenz ( a loose impression of the woodcut for the 1503 edition is in the British Museum, inv.no 1923-5-14-41). It is likely that Pirckheimer advised Dürer on the design of Sancta Iusticia. Several lines of text written by Dürer on the verso of a drawing dated 1521 of an unrelated subject seem to refer to the allegorical figures in this print (formerly in Bremen; see Winkler, iv, pl. xiv, lower). The seated female angels represent Justice and Liberty or Abundance, the lowest coats of arms represent Nuremberg, and the double-headed imperial eagle in the centre refers to Nuremberg's privileged status as a 'free city' which owed its allegiance directly to the emperor.
A detailed account of the two editions of 'Reformacion der Stat Nüremberg' which appeared in 1522, of which this is an example of the second, corrected edition, and a history of the production of the book will be the subject of a forthcoming article by David Paisey, who has concluded that earlier references to a complete edition of the book appearing on 20 January, 1521, while Dürer was away in the Netherlands cannot be supported by surviving evidence. The single recorded example of the book with this date printed in the colophon, is entirely compiled of leaves from the second 1522 edition, apart from the final gathering of four leaves where the colophon appears (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Sammlung Merkel, D - 7329). Minutes from council meetings indicate that the book was still in production during the early months of 1522, and a record of the payment of 7 florins for the block of 'Sancta Iusticia' between 5 March and 2 April 1522 indicates that the date of 1521 on Dürer's print refers not to the printing of the block but to his design of the woodcut which he must have produced towards the end of 1521 after he returned to Nuremberg at the end of July. The high quality of the hand-colouring of the woodcut in this book is exceptional among the copies of the book examined by Paisey, who given its unique circumstances thinks it possible that Dürer applied the hand-colouring himself.'
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Reformacion der Stat Nüremberg
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Paisey (2002): The book is from the library of Willibald Pirckheimer, and it was sold by Hans Hieronymus Imhoff to Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, in 1636, and presented by Henry Howard, Duke of Norfolk, in 1667 to the Royal Society.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number