1590 Descrittione Dela Gran Citta Et Isola Del Temistitan.
By: Tomaso Porcacchi
Date: 1590 (Published) Venice
Dimensions: 4.2 x 5.5 inches (10.7 x 14 cm)
This scarce engraving is from Tomaso Porcacchi’s atlas of islands, third edition. While it is similar to the earlier work of Benedetto Bordone in his publication Isolario, it includes features which distinguish it from the earlier map, certain of which link it to another much earlier map published in Nuremburg in 1524. The authorship of the earlier map is still disputed but it is commonly thought to be a European woodcut based perhaps on an original of indigenous origin, portraying the city as it would have appeared to its inhabitants.
The map depicts Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, built in the center of the lake as the Aztecs had been ordered to do by a priest who had been instructed in a dream. The grandeur of Tenochtitlan amazed all Europeans who saw it, for the city seemed to rise from the lake, with observers remarking on the great number of buildings and towers rising from it. Some wondered if the image were not a dream, so fantastical was it.
When Cortes entered the city the population was estimated to be over 300,000, making it far larger than the largest city in Europe of that time. Built on manmade islands within Lake Texcoco, the city was centered round a great temple. Cortes wrote that 60,000 visitors made their way to the city each day. Despite its grandeur and beauty, the city was virtually razed to the ground as Cortes ordered that the temples be dismantled and the materials be used to build what would become present day Mexico City. Accompanying Italian text below the map and on the verso describes the city and its environs.
Condition: This map is a fine impression in A condition.
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