By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 13.25 x 18.75 inches (33.7 x 47.6 cm)
This is a fine hand colored example of Braun and Hogenberg’s view of Naples, one of the most sought-after sixteenth century views of the city.
Naples was founded in the 7th century BC by Greeks from a nearby colony, who called the original settlement Parthenope. Soon the same colonists decided to expand the city and built Neapolis (new city) adjacent to the old one. Greek was spoken in the busy trade center, and Greek traditions and cultural customs were preserved and maintained when Rome came to dominate the city, along with much of the architectural heritage. With its impregnable citadel, the defenses of Naples have served it well, and many an invasion has been warded off, from the Etruscans to Hannibal.
This bird’s eye view creates the impression of a well-organized and bustling city, with many seafaring vessels plying the waters nearby. In the early modern era under Alfonso V of Aragon, also known as Alfonso I of Naples and Sicily, the city saw its greatest flowering, and by the mid-sixteenth century the population had increased to almost a quarter of a million, making it Europe’s second largest city, second only to Paris. Three major fortifications are depicted here, the Castel Nuovo on the seafront, Castel dell’ovo on a rocky promontory and Castle Sant’ Elmo overlooking the city from the hillside.
Translation of cartouche text: “This is the notable and flourishing city of Naples in Campania, formerly called Parthenope, after Parthenope the siren, who was buried in this place. As legend relates, the sirens cast themselves into the sea in fury after they had been unable to seduce Odysseus and his companions with their song. Naples, today the residence of illustrious families and most learned men, is distinguished for the wonderful mildness of its air and its delightful location, the magnificence of its churches, private houses and palaces, beautiful tombs of kings, queens and high-ranking persons, and a university with all the faculties.”
Georg Braun (1541-1622) was born and died in Cologne. His primary vocation was as Catholic cleric; he spent thirty-seven years as canon and dean at the church St. Maria ad Gradus, in Cologne. Braun was the chief editor of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the greatest book of town views of that time to be published. His job entailed hiring artists, acquiring source material for the maps and views, and writing the text. In this role, he was assisted by Abraham Ortelius. Braun lived into his 80s, and he was the only member of the original team to witness the publication of the sixth volume in 1617.
Frans Hogenberg (ca. 1540-ca. 1590) was a Flemish and German engraver and mapmaker who also painted. He was born in Mechelen, south of Antwerp, the son of wood engraver and etcher Nicolas Hogenberg. Together with his father, brother (Remigius), uncle, and cousins, Frans was a member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands. During the 1550s, he worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for the Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
Condition: This hand colored map is in B+ condition. Image is slightly blurred or faded in places at the centerfold and there is a short centerfold separation in the lower border.
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