BRAUN, Georg (1541-1622) & HOGENBERG, Franz (1535-1590). Antverpia. Cologne: 1572-1612.

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BRAUN, Georg (1541-1622) & HOGENBERG, Franz (1535-1590). Antverpia. Cologne: 1572-1612.


Two sheets joined (32 x 19 inches, trimmed margins with platemark). Fine engraved view with original hand-coloring of Antwerp with inset text and cartouche (lightly toned).

Drawn for volume V of Braun and Hogenburg’s Civitates orbis terrarum by contributor Georg Hoefnagel, a resident of Antwerp. An ornate cartouche in the lower right contains a poem by the Italian scholar Julius Scaliger (April 23, 1484 – October 21, 1558). Text in the lower left includes a neo-Latin verse by Flemish diplomat Daniel Rogers, numbered key to the city’s landmarks as well as a description of the people and culture.

From Georg Braun’s description of the city, "The city is in rich possession of that which belongs to the nourishment of the soul and the practice of the Christian religion. For it has 5 parish churches, 9 monasteries and nunneries, 8 chapels, 3 hospices, 24 houses of God. The Franciscan monastery is particularly famous and invested with a magnificent library, which was plundered in the wars gone by, however. [...] In the very centre of the city is a large square called the Bourse, which is lined with magnificent columns supporting the covered colonnade and which is very skilfully vaulted: it looks as if it were panelled in wood. In the colonade there are all sorts of things for sale that are interesting to look at; the merchants meet here every day at certain times to trade their wares."

The views from George Braun and Frans Hogenberg’s landmark Civitates orbis terrarum, completed in Cologne between 1572 and 1618, are among the most beautiful and important images of Renaissance cities. The Civitates was the first extensive series of town views that treated its subject matter in an accurate and meaningful way. Earlier collections of town views were far more limited in scope, and often made no real attempt to render the subject city with any degree of realism being simply a record of the existence of a town. Certainly the striking beauty and accuracy of Braun and Hogenberg’s production was entirely unprecedented. Earlier collections contained no more than a handful of views, usually only of the more important cities, while the Civitates contained literally hundreds of views, including many of smaller towns for which no earlier views are known. Even for the larger, important cities, the Civitates is of the utmost importance to the history of their topography.

Braun and Hogenberg envisioned this massive collection as a companion work to the Theatrum orbis terrarum, the first modern atlas, published by Abraham Ortelius in Antwerp from 1570. Indeed, Hogenberg had first-hand knowledge of that impressive and influential work, having been commissioned by Ortelius to engrave many of the plates for the maps it included. It took over forty years to collect all of the hundreds of plans contained in the volumes that form the complete Civitates. The text was compiled and written by Braun, the Canon of Cologne Cathedral, and a total of five hundred views were eventually included. The majority of the engraving was completed by Hogenberg and Simon Novellanus, many after drawings by Joris Hoefnagel, a talented topographical artist. The artistic merit of this particular plate is extremely high, and it reflects many of the same high standards of quality, in terms of color and decoration, that characterizes the maps of Ortelius. Embellished in the style of north European Renaissance art, it contains splendid examples of ornate strapwork and fretwork cartouches, a heraldic crest, a medallion, and perhaps most importantly, costumed figures that exhibit the regional fashions of the day. Legend holds that these charming figures were added to prevent the export of the book to the Islamic world, where artistic representation of the human figure was prohibited.

For more information about this view, or a warm welcome to see it and other books in our library at 72nd Street, NYC, please contact Tara Mishkovsky, M.A. in the Rare Book Department. Bookseller Inventory # 72TM017