In De casibus virorum illustrium, Boccaccio relates stories about famous individuals as encouragment to his readers to avoid misfortune by adhering to virtue. Beginning with Adam of the Bible, continuing to figures of Antiquity and finishing with Boccaccio's contemporaries of 14th-century Florence. About half of the 119 illustrations of this edition entail woodcuts from the Master of Petrarch, identified with Petrarch's De remediis as Von der Arzney bayder Glück in 1532 (261 woodcuts).
The following text, Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus, focuses on famous women from legend and history. The first edition of the ‘Famous women’ was richly illustrated with eighty-one remarkable woodcuts; the anonymous artist is named the ‘Master of the Ulm Boccaccio’ after this work. The subsequent editions contained copies of these woodcuts; and they still served as an inspiration for the illustration of Steiner’s 16th-century editions.
Petrarch's work is likewise looking towards the past, discussing illustrious figures in relation to the four cardinal virtues. This is the first translation into German, and is complimented by introductory illustrations at the beginning of each of the fourteen treaties.
The novel of Apuleius, called both Metamorphoses and The Golden Ass, details the ridiculous adventures of Lucius after he transforms into an ass. The frame story contains several tales, the most famous of which is Cupid and Psyche. The edition contains woodcuts branded by a brutal realism, with bloody bodies and half-decayed corpses revived.
See this item in our catalogue, Heroes and Heroines.