Tabula Palatinorum Heroldi: a woodcut genealogical tree for Friedrich II der Weise (1482-1556) and Ottheinrich (1502-1559), prince electors of the Palatinate
Basel, Johann Oporinus, 1556
A spectacularly well-preserved monumental multi-block woodcut, printed on twenty-two large sheets, which when properly assembled as seven tiers of three sheets each, with three emblematical woodcuts joined to make the top border, form a picture surface of roughly 5.42 m2 (height × width: 420.5 × 129 cm, 165 × 51 in). Since their publication in 1556 the sheets have been contained in albums and have not suffered from damage caused by rolling or wall-mounting like other known impressions. The print is a family tree of the Wittelsbach dynasty over 1000 years, beginning with the Merovingian King Clovis I (466-511), and culminating with the Elector Palatine Friedrich II (1482-1556), and features 934 half-length portraits and coats of arms. On three sides is an integral border of arabesque ornament with 82 bust-length medallion portraits of Roman and Byzantine emperors and Sultan Suleiman the Great, each cut on a black ground. The wood blocks are signed by six draughtsmen or cutters: Jacob Clauser, David Kandel, Zacharias Specklin, Ieremias Wyssenbach, and two unidentified artists, one signing with the monogram HS with a pen or brush, the other with the monogram C with a cross and pen or brush. The project was begun at the command of Pfalzgraf Friedrich II (died 1556) but only completed at the urgent command of his successor Ottheinrich. Johannes Herold, who was entrusted with the task, published a small explanatory booklet, of which a copy has been bound in.