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7 Days of Creation and Their Most Beautiful Illustrations


In 1493 one of the most monumental picture books in history was published; the cosmography of the creation according to Genesis.

The Nuremberg Chronicles (1493), written by Hartmann Schedel and illustrated with woodcuts by Michael Wolgemut, represents a monumental place in the history of the printed page. One of the most beautifully illustrated texts of all time, its approximately 600 pages, in-folio, contain 1,804 woodcuts intended to communicate to the public a schedule of events predetermined by God, beginning with the Creation, and ending with the end of time.

Schedel begins his account of the cosmogony with the Old Testament account of Creation itself. The preface is dedicated to describing the everyday process of how the world came to be. Schedel though, also tried to include some other ancient and pagan sources who influenced his text, and mentions authors such as Plato, Aristotle and Pliny in an effort to “humanize” the discourse.

Below are seven prints corresponding to the seven days of the creation of the universe in the Book of Genesis. These gradually increase in their complexity to accommodate the ordinances of the holy scriptures. It’s very possible that no cosmography more elegant than this one yet exists.

In the context of the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Day one, night and day:

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

painting of a hand by a blue circle


Day Two, the sky and the sea: And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

painting of a hand by blue and white circles


Day Three, land and vegetation:

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

painting of a hand by blue and orange circles


Day Four, the stars, the sun and the moon:

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

painting showing the hand of god creating the sun moon and stars


Day Five, sea creatures and birds:

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

painting showing the hand of god creating sea creatures and birds


Day Six, animals and humans:

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

painting showing god creating animals and humans


Day Seven, rest:

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

painting with heads blowing the wind and concentric circles

*All illustrations taken from Schedelsche Weltchronik or Nuremberg Chronicle. Public domain.

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