CAIRUS, QUAE OLIM BABYLON - AEGYPTI MAXIMA URBS.
Illustration to Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber Primus. Cologne, Bertram Buchholtz (1599)
Bears numbering in pencil outside plate l.r. CIK / 0
Copper engraving with hand-colouring
Plate: 33 x 49cm | Sheet: 40.5 x 53.2cm
Van der Krogt, Vol. 4, No. 735, State II
Fauser, No. 6298;
Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.132;
Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum ('Atlas of the Cities of the World') by is the second oldest printed atlas in the history of world cartography; as well as the first systematic atlas of towns specifically. Its principal creators and authors were the theologian and editor Georg Braun (1541-1622) and the engraver and publisher Franz Hogenberg (1539-1590). Among the artists involved in the project were Simon van den Neuvel, Joris Hoefnagel and Jacob van Deventer, with several others commissioned. Although it was published outside of the Netherlands, the Civitates is considered one of the better examples of the Antwerp School of Cartography, on account of its distinctively Flemish style. One of the most well-known figures from this school, who also played a key role in the conception of the Civitates, was Abraham Ortelius. It is frequently thought that the Civitates is the direct and intended companion for Ortelius' renowned Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), in part due to evidence of correspondence between the three titans of cartography to this effect.
The first volume of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum was published in Cologne in 1572. Its sixth and final volume appeared more than four decades later in 1617. The Civitates was an enormous and widespread success for the publishers. It was frequently republished and supplemented with new sections with later editions. The maps it contained became exemplary references; and as a result were often reproduced in smaller formats as illustrations for books by other publishers.
The atlas contains more than 500 maps, representing an entire era in the lavish history of town-mapping. Earlier collections of city views were heterogeneous productions, limited in scope; and they rarely attempted topographical realism. The Civitates, by contrast, contained hundreds of views, including many of smaller towns for which no earlier representations are known, depicted with unprecedented accuracy. Braun corresponded extensively with map sellers and scholars from different cities and countries to achieve the highest level of accuracy in his mapping. In addition, the authors also carried out their own investigations, through detailed on-location drawings of panoramic views of the towns made from some high point. It took over forty years to collect the hundreds of plans contained in the Civitates.
The plans, each accompanied by Braun's printed account of the town's history, situation and commerce, form a lavish armchair-traveler's compendium, and provide a uniquely comprehensive view of urban life at the turn of the sixteenth century.