One of the Greatest Woodcut Books of the Reformation

Luther, Martin (1483-1546); Sachs, Hans (1494-1576), attributed author; Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), artist

Das Babstum mit seynen gliedern gemalet und beschryben gebessert und gemehrt.

Nuremberg: Hans Guldenmund, 1526


Quarto: 20.5 x 16 cm. [44] pp. A-E4, F2


Bound in later stiff vellum. All 74 woodcuts colored by a contemporary hand. Some light soiling. Complete.

One of the greatest –and scarcest- illustrated books of the German Protestant Reformation, illustrated with 74 fine woodcuts by the famed painter and engraver Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550). Beham executed these woodcuts a short time before he was banished from Nuremberg, having been accused of heresy, blasphemy, and refusing to recognize the authority of the City council. The religious orders represented include the Dominicans (Predigers), Franciscans (Barfussers), Augustinians, the Brothers of Our Lady, etc. This is an anti-papal satire on the Roman Catholic Church and its various religious orders. The book consists of seventy-four fine woodcuts of the pope, cardinals, clerical dignitaries, and members of the sixty-four monastic orders all in contemporary color, with satirical verses –attribute to Hans Sachs- beneath each figure. The poems criticize the Church and its hierarchy for obscuring the clear message of the Gospel through the proliferation of countless religious groups distinguished only by their costumes and minor doctrinal distinctions. In addition to its importance in the history of Reformation satire, the book is an invaluable visual record of the religious orders. The book includes a forward and postscript in verse, which are based on Luther’s prose versions in the Wittenberg edition. (cf. Smith, Nuremberg, a Renaissance City, 1500-1618)

Benzing 2236; VD 16, P 363; Kuczinski 173; Pauli, Beham 1124-1180