Auction 130, Lot 775

"Alexandria, Vetustissimum Aegypti Emporium, Amplissima Civitas…", Braun & Hogenberg

Subject: Alexandria, Egypt

Period: 1575 (circa)

Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

Size:
18.8 x 14.3 inches
47.8 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.

Fabulous bird's-eye view of the famous city of Alexandria, ancient Egyptian center of trade, which was founded by Alexander the Great in 320 BC. By the sixteenth century Alexandria was still a commercial port, but it had lost its political and economic importance after its capture by the Arabs in AD 642. The large, fortified city, centered on a beautiful mosque is located on the Nile Delta. Much of the city is in ruins but several important sites are still identifiable, including the lighthouse (Pharus), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city is surrounded by verdant countryside with people and camels and a variety of boats, galleys and ships filling the foreground.

References: Fussel, pp 187-89.

Condition: B+

A 3" tear to the left of the lower centerfold, and two tiny worm holes in the cartouche, have been professionally repaired.

Estimate: $650 - $750

Sold for: $475

Closed on 12/2/2009

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