First version | The Mnemosyne Atlas, March to May 1928

By March 1928 some 40 panels containing a first draft for the so-called first version of the Atlas were set up in Warburg’s house next to the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg library building. What drove Warburg at this time to finish the work was the desire to take a completed Atlas to the United States on a planned, but never realized trip later in 1928. His intention was to promote his method at the most prominent and influential of American universities. Accordingly, he pushed for an agreement with a publisher and discussed costs and layout, without however having finalized the order of the whole. In early May 1928 Warburg settled on six major themes, ranging from courtly Burgundian realism to ancient and revived pathos formulas, astrology, festivals and drama and including the dynamics of contemporary political symbolism all’antica. He displayed all his materials, 670 reproductions on 43 panels, spread out over three rooms in both the old and the new buildings. The first photo session to record the disposition of these panels took place in the week of 7 May 1928, after Warburg had left Hamburg for medical treatment in Frankfurt am Main, from where he asked for further modifications. [C.W.]

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 3

Panel 4

Panel 5

Panel 6

Panel 7

Panel 8

Panel 9

Panel 10

Panel 11

Panel 12

Panel 13

Panel 14

Panel 15

Panel 16

Panel 17

Panel 18

Panel 19

Panel 20

Panel 21

Panel 22

Panel 23

Panel 24

Panel 25

Panel 26

Panel 27

Panel 28

Panel 29

Panel 30

Panel 31

Panel 32

Panel 33

Panel 34

Panel 35

Panel 36

Panel 37

Panel 38

Panel 39

Panel 40

Panel 41

Panel 42

Panel 43