By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 13 x 18.75 inches (33 x 47.6 cm)
This map presents early bird’s eye views of the great Italian cities of Genoa and Florence on one sheet. Genua (Genoa) The port and city of Genoa are presented from an ideal, elevated viewpoint from the south. Birthplace of Columbus in 1451, the city as featured here in 1574 still held an important economic position within Europe’s ruling houses. An principal port city and shipping center, Genoa was also home to the Banco di San Giorgio, founded in 1407, the oldest chartered bank in Europe and the world. The Bank served as financier to many European monarchs throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, gaining widespread influence. Ferdinand and Isabella maintained accounts there, as did the city’s native son, Christopher Columbus. Charles V was at times heavily in debt to the Bank.
The city’s layout is clearly seen as it slopes down to the sea. At its center stands the 13th century Romanesque cathedral of San Lorenzo. The Palazzo Ducale is seen higher up the hillside as the medieval complex it had been since the thirteenth century. The marvelous eighty meter high lighthouse in the lower left quadrant is another symbol of the city. Ships of myriad origins are depicted plying the waters near the port, further underscoring the city’s importance. The cartouche text provides additional information as to the character of the merchants and the city’s governance. Latin text on the verso describes the city proper. Florentia (Florence) The cartouche of the map and the commentary by Braun aptly describe the city Florence of 1574.
Cartouche: “Florence is a distinguished city in Etruria, formerly called Fluentia, because it lies on the stream of the River Arno. [...] Embellished with beautiful public and private buildings and surrounded by hills on all sides, Florence is the residence of famous men and a most fertile field for outstanding talents.”
Commentary by Braun: "For just as Venice is called the rich, Milan the great, Genoa the proud, Bologna the fertile, Ravenna the ancient, Naples the noble and Rome the holy city, so Florence is called the beautiful. It has magnificent churches, of which Santa Maria del Fiore is particularly wonderful: it is built of marble and beside it stands a tower, also of marble, quite magnificently furnished with bells." Florence is seen here as viewed from the southwest with the Palazzo Pitti perched on its hill above the city.
Built by the banker Luca Bonaccorso Pitti to challenge the Medici family, ironically, it was purchased by the Medici family in 1550, approximately one hundred years following its construction. On the far side of the Arno the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or Il Duomo di Firenze, designed by Brunelleschi soars above the roofs of the densely packed houses. Also visible are the bell tower by Giotto, and the Baptistery with its magnificent bronze doors by Ghiberti. Behind it is the Palazzo Vecchio with its marvelous 94 meter-high tower. As a Roman colony in Caesar’s day, Florence marked the intersection of two major trade routes. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries saw the city develop as a center of art and culture which attracted artists and intellectuals alike. Under the rule of the Medici family Florence also became an important center of finance and commerce, originally based principally on the wool trade.
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: Fine hand colored map in B+ condition with wide margins. A small hole in the image of the map of Florence in the lower center along with a separation near the centerfold which has been repaired with archival material on the verso.
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