From Countryside to City
Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg are two names inseparable from the first atlas of city views from the late 16th century.
Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg, Theatre of Cities of the World (Cologne, c. 1575-1618) six tomes in two in-folio volumes, red Morocco leather; Du Seuil decorations, c. 1620-1630.
Brought together in two large in-folio volumes, these six complete tomes, with their period even colouring, were published and bound in France: proof, if any were needed, of our compatriots' interest in this type of book. This monument of European cartography, initially published in around 1572 in Latin under the title Civitates orbis terrarum, was the work of Georg Braun (1541-1622), a geographer and publisher from Cologne, and the Flemish cartographer Frans Hogenberg (1535- c. 1590), who was born in Mechelen and died in Cologne. Unlike Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum orbis terrarium (published in 1570), which included maps of shipping routes and various countries in the world, Braun and Hogenberg's atlas contains only plans and views of the major cities of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, thus providing a global view of urban life at the turn of the 17th century. No fewer than three hundred cities are illustrated, in France (including Paris, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Lyon, Tours, La Rochelle and Besançon) and northern, central and southern Europe. Seville, Hamburg, Budapest, Amsterdam, Naples, Krakow, Copenhagen, Prague, Stockholm, Leipzig, Edinburgh, Oxford, Leuven, Lisbon and many others take the form of sometimes traditional plans, sometimes profile or bird's eye views, and sometimes even picturesque landscapes. And for those with itchy feet, we also find Moscow, Vilnius, Cuzco, Mexico, Algiers, Alexandria, Cairo, Damascus, Calcutta, Goa, Jerusalem, Constantinople and Aden. The engraved plates are printed over a double page, accompanied by a notice and embellished with small scenes full of costumed figures. It took over forty years to publish this atlas, with last two parts printed between 1600 and 1618. But it will probably only take a few minutes to knock down this ancestor of modern-day tourist guides…