Regiomontanus in the Nuremberg Chronicle

May 5th, 2013

In a recent colloquium held in Special Collections, Prof. Michael Shank of the Department of History of Science, pointed out the portrait of the humanist astronomer Regiomontanus included in Hartmann Schedel’s Liber chronicarum (1493), the massive volume often called the Nuremberg Chronicle. 

portrait of Regiomontanus, from Hartmann Schedel, Liber chronicarum (1493), Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Although many portraits included in this heavily illustrated work were more generic in nature, and were sometimes recycled for different historical figures, Shank notes that the woodcut portrait of Regiomontanus was probably a faithful likeness, since Schedel and his artist both knew Regiomontanus. For more about this huge volume, see such works as The making of the Nuremberg Chronicle by the noted California printer and book designer Adrian Wilson, available in the reference section in the Special Collections reading room. See also Ezra Brown’s English translation (1990) of Ernst Zinner’s biography of Regiomontanus.

Much of Shank’s lively lecture centered on a manuscript by Regiomontanus, the “Defensio Theonis contra Trapezuntium,” or “Defense of Theon against George of Trebizond.” A preliminary digital edition of this manuscript, the original of which is held in the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg branch, is an ambitious joint project undertaken by Shank and Richard Kremer at Dartmouth.