Shifting Borders: A Journey to the Centre of our World(s) at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery in Leeds, England, focuses on the world of travel, guidebooks, and historic maps as well as contemporary artists’ books. For my money the highlight of this exhibition is Bernhard von Breydenbach’s Peregrinatio in terram sanctam (Mainz, 1486).
Published in 1486 by Peter Schlöffer the Elder, the groundbreaking volume was the first known printed and illustrated travel guide. Von Breydenbach made the pilgrimage in 1483-4, taking with him Erhard Reuwich of Utrecht, a “skillful artist”, to make drawings of the sights.
Leaving in April 1483 and arriving back in January 1484, they went first to Venice, where they stayed for three weeks. They then traveled by ship to Greece before heading to Israel. Following visits to sights in the Holy Land, they traveled to Egypt and Ethiopia.
The Peregrinatio in terram sanctam featured five large fold-out woodcuts, including a spectacular panoramic view of Venice, where they had stayed for three weeks. The book also contained a three-block map of Israel and Egypt, centered on a view of Jerusalem, and panoramas of five other cities: Corfu, Rhodes, Modon, Iraklion, and Parenzo. The book also featured studies of Middle Eastern costumes and alphabets. Images of exotic animals seen on the trip were also included.
The book became a bestseller and was reprinted at least thirteen times over the next three decades, including printings in France and Spain, for which the illustration blocks were shipped out to the local printers. The first German language edition was published within a year of the Latin one, and it was also translated into French, Dutch and Spanish before 1500. Additional text-only editions and various abridged editions were also published over the following three centuries. In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from Universitäts und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt at this link.
If you would like to have your very own copy of a First Edition, I can get you one for less than $500,000 (including shipping).
what a trip!…….the first mass-produced illustrated piece of content (or one of the first known).