A multi-block woodcut print depicting Charles V’s triumphal entry into Bologna on 5 November 1529, in anticipation of his coronation by Pope Clement VII as Holy Roman Emperor, on his 30th birthday (24 February 1530). The individual woodcuts show a continuous parade of nobility, standard-bearers and heralds, musicians, knights in armour on horseback, arquebusiers, halberdiers, pikemen, and riders drawing artillery, moving from right to left. They were intended to be joined together laterally to form a frieze nearly nine metres long, and when fixed to the wall of a room, or assembled as a scroll, the print offered a panorama where the onlooker could see – or see once again, if he had been present – the whole cortège pass before his eyes. Descriptive captions, cut in separate wood blocks and printed in the upper margins, guided the viewer along; near the end of the frieze, he would read ‘Stampata in uenetia a di p.° Iulio 1530’ (Printed in Venice, 1 July 1530).
Multi-sheet, ‘mural’ prints are notoriously susceptible to destruction and loss. Of this woodcut, just six other impressions are recorded, preserved in public collections in Florence (Uffizi), Ghent (University Library), London (British Museum; British Library), Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France), and Vienna (Albertina). The complete complement of sixteen sheets is found in only two sets (Uffizi and British Library), the latter printed many decades later, after the blocks had become severely damaged by woodworm. The other sets, like ours, are deficient to varying extents. Since the complete date (1 July 1530) is not present on any other impression, our print appears to be a unique survivor of the earliest known state.