By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 12.75 x 19 inches (32.4 x 48.3 cm)
This marvelous engraving of Constantinople in original color is from an early edition of Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the most prolific compilation of city views published in the 16th Century.
Braun and Hogenberg’s map is one of the finest and most sought-after depictions of the magnificent ancient city, illustrating in fine detail the surviving historical architectural edifices of the day, along with those newly built by the Ottomans in the first century following their conquest of the city.
This view of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire from its dedication by Constantine the Great till its fall in 1453, was made just one hundred and nineteen years after its capture by the troops of Fatih Mehmet, the Ottoman Emperor who had first been enticed by the city in his childhood. A Turkish proverb says ‘A red apple invites stones’, and the city, known to them as the Red Apple, had been an object of desire since Mohammed himself had spoken of its magnificence and desirability.
The city is portrayed from the Scutari (Uskudar) region of its Asian side, and many of the landmark buildings rendered are extant to this day. The city’s remarkable shape resembles the horn of a rhino, and it possesses extraordinary natural and manmade defenses. The great Theodosian walls on which one may walk to this day stretch from the Golden Horn to the Marmara. These walls were amongst the most formidable of all defensive walls in the medieval world. The Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara further guarded the original city.
The origins of the map are thought to be traceable to the 1520 map published in Venice by Giovanni Andrea Vavassore. His view is thought to have influenced the 1550 edition (and subsequent editions) of Sebastian Munster’s Cosmographia, and he was thought to have been influenced by the 1480 work of Giovanni Bellini, the artist and engraver invited to Constantinople by Sultan Fatih Mehmet near the end of his (the Sultan’s) life. Bellini made many fine engravings of the city and may well have produced such a map, but its existence is hypothetical.
Interestingly, both Munster’s and Braun and Hogenberg’s maps are more accurate topographically than many in the Vavassore map. This map is further distinguished by the portrayal of the revered and feared Suleiman the Magnificent who reigned from 1520 to 1566, surrounded by Janissary guards as he rides along the waterfront in the lower center.
Descriptive text in Latin on the verso.
Condition: This map is in B+ condition with some light soiling, a centerfold separation, and tears to the bottom and left margins that have been properly repaired on the verso.
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