"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

15 March 2016


Barbari, Venice, 1500

Virtually nothing is known about the early life of Jacopo de’ Barbari. He may have been born as early as 1450 or as late as 1470, probably in Venice but possibly in Nuremburg. He may have studied under the Italian painter Alvise Vivarini, or maybe not. The first thing we know for certain is that he met Albrecht Dürer during Dürer’s Wanderjahre in 1495.

Not much more is known about Anton Kolb. He was a merchant from Nuremburg who ended up in Venice as a member of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (Guild of German Merchants), where, according to later records, he was trying to sell Latin copies of Schedel’s Weltchronik.

Sometime around 1497 Kolb approached Barbari with a proposal to prepare a large-scale bird’s-eye view of Venice. The result – the Venetie M.D. or Pianta di Venezia or Plan of Venice – simply had no precedent in the history of cartography or printmaking. It was also, somewhat suprisingly, Barbari’s first attributed work.

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