"Sevilla, Hispalis", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: Seville, Spain
Period: 1598 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum
Color: Hand Color
19.5 x 14.8 inches
49.5 x 37.6 cm
Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum or "Cities of the World" was published between 1572 and 1617. Within the six volumes, 531 towns and cities were depicted on 363 plates, providing the reader with the pleasures of travel without the attendant discomforts. Braun wrote in the preface to the third book, "What could be more pleasant than, in one's own home far from all danger, to gaze in these books at the universal form of the earth . . . adorned with the splendor of cities and fortresses and, by looking at pictures and reading the texts accompanying them, to acquire knowledge which could scarcely be had but by long and difficult journeys?" Braun and Hogenberg incorporated an astonishing wealth of information into each scene beyond the city layout and important buildings. The plates provide an impression of the economy and prominent occupations, and illustrate local costumes, manners and customs.
The human drama in the foreground dominates this unusual view of Seville. Drawn by Georg Hoefnagel, it is one of the most impressive cultural depictions in the Civitates. The scene shows the public humiliation of an adulterous woman and her cuckolded husband. The adulteress is stripped to the waist, smeared with honey (a sign of her sweetness) and surrounded by a swarm of bees. The husband bears the decorated horns of the cuckold (symbol of shame bestowed on a man who could not control his wife). The couple are mounted on asses and driven through the streets by a rowdy crowd accompanied by magistrates. The beautiful city in the background is dominated by the Santa Maria de la Sede, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Also visible are the Roman aqueduct from Cremona and the city walls. The banner draping the cartouche forms the slogan, "Qui non ha visto Sevilla, non ha visto maravilla" (he who has not seen Seville, has seen no marvels), a phrase still in use today to describe the beautiful capital city of Andalusia. French text on verso.
References: Fussel pp. 350-352.
Fine old color with some toning in the margins and an extraneous crease along the fold. The bottom fold is separated in the blank margin.