Civitates Orbis Terrarum
Cities Of the World by Braun and Hogenberg
The World as known in the early 17th Century
Two generations before Matthäus Merian, the Cologne theologian Georg Braun and the Flemish copper engraver Franz Hogenberg, together with other experienced artists, created a large-scale city vedutas which became increasingly famous over the centuries. Their work comprises views and maps of cities from around the then known world – hence the title of the first of six volumes, which was published in 1576: Civitates Orbis Terrarum. The elaborately designed and lavishly coloured large-format images that accompanied the anecdotal descriptions were intended to convey a new image of the world to all those who enjoyed a humanist education.
Realistic city vedutas as historical documents
To improve our knowledge of medieval cities before their destruction in the Thirty Years War and the ensuing reconstruction in Baroque style, these excellent etchings are of tremendous importance, particularly since they provide not only detailed depictions of towns and landscapes but also a great deal of additional information: coats of arms, popular genre scenes of the life of farmers and fishers, local customs and fashion, vessels, carts and carriages of all kind and much more. In the accompanying text Georg Braun describes the geographic situation, the historic development and the economic circumstances of each city, in an instructive and amusing style.