Auction 129, Lot 574

"Scenographia Totius Fabricae S. Laurentii in Escoriali", Braun & Hogenberg

Subject: Spain, El Escorial

Period: 1617 (published)

Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum

Color: Black & White

18.3 x 14.3 inches
46.5 x 36.3 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.

This beautiful bird's-eye view of King Phillip II's newly built monastery-palace is from Volume VI of Braun & Hogenberg's monumental work. It is based on the 1587 plan by Petrus Perret that was first published in 1591 in Ortelius' Theartrum Orbis Terrarum. This view is looking east with Madrid just visible near the horizon. The massive structure occupies more than 40,000 square feet and has 12,000 windows and doors. Designed by the Spanish architect Juan Bautista de Toledo who had worked in Italy assisting Michelangelo at St. Peter's, it was built to commemorate the king's victory over the French at St. Quentin in 1577. The palace also contains the mausoleum of Philip's father, Charles V. Directly behind the palace is the hamlet of Escorial, which housed workmen and provided quarters for the monks who later lived within. French text on verso.

References: Fussel p. 438; Goss (Cities) #19;.

Condition: A

Beautiful, early impression with wide margins. There is a tiny chip in the lower margin repaired with archival tape, else fine.

Estimate: $550 - $750

Sold for: $400

Closed on 9/23/2009