Zürcher Buchholzschnitte zwischen Inkunabelzeit und früher Reformation: Ein Überblick

Lothar Schmitt


The Zurich woodcut illustrations of the early Reformation show a typical spectrum for the use of images in book printing. Unlike in centres such as Wittenberg or Basel, Zurich’s early book illustrations have not been influenced by dominant artists of the period such as Lukas Cranach the Elder or Hans Holbein the Younger. Although Christoph Froschauer occasionally commissioned Holbein to create illustrations for prints made in Zurich, most of the early woodblocks used in Zurich are created by anonymous artists. Nevertheless, the printers in Zurich, above all Christoph Froschauer and Hans Hager, convincingly used the available woodblocks to illustrate their broadsheets, pamphlets and books. They drew on local traditions of the 15th century and often used incunabula illustrations. Among the various text genres of the time, a group of polemical prints stand out, in which woodcuts are effectively employed to fight for the cause of the Reformation. In Zurich, a simple but particularly convincing layout was developed to create a typical local appearance for the title pages of Zwingli’s publications that had a high and marketable recognition potential.


Zwingli; Froschauer; Printing; Book Illustration; Reformation; Visual Polemics; Zurich

Zwingliana ISSN 0254-4407 | Contact