Catalog Archive
Auction 150, Lot 546

Stunning and Scarce View of Naples by Lafreri

"Quale e di Quanta Importanza, e Bellezza sia la Nobile Cita di Napole in Italia Ancora che sia Nota a Tutto il Mondo…", Lafreri, Antonio

Subject: Naples, Italy

Period: 1566 (dated)


Color: Black & White

33.1 x 21.9 inches
84.1 x 55.6 cm

This stunning bird's-eye view of Naples gives the burgeoning port city a three-dimensional perspective. Individual buildings, the layout of the streets, and the surrounding countryside are depicted in great detail. One of the most prominent features of this view is the fortified wall protecting the city, which was the greatest urban construction in Naples until the 19th century. The wall begins in the northwest at the Castel San Martino (#11, now known as Castel Sant'Elmo), a star-shaped structure near the top center of the image that was given its shape by a military architect, Pedro Luis Escriva from Valencia, from 1537-47. The wall continues east through several gates until it reaches the northernmost point at San Giovanni a Carbonara (#28), a Gothic church that was founded by the Augustinians in 1343. At bottom center is Castel Nuovo (#10), a 13th century castle that is today one of the main architectural landmarks in Naples. Continuing south is the island of Megaride, on which the Castel dell'Ovo (#12) was built, which received its name, Egg Castle, from the Roman poet Virgil. Legend has it that Virgil, believed to be a great sorcerer, placed a magical egg in the foundation of the castle, and had the egg broken, the castle would have been destroyed and disastrous events would have occurred throughout Naples. Between the Castel dll'Ovo and the Castel Nuovo, the via Toledo (#67) stretches from the water north to the wall of the city, linking the old town to the "new" city.

Today Naples is the capital of the Campania region and the third largest municipality in Italy. Its history began in the second millennium BC with Greek settlements and grew rapidly due to the influence of Syracuse, a Greek city-state. The Romans captured the city during the Samnite Wars (circa 300 BC) as the Roman Republic fought for unification and control of Italy. Although the walls surrounding the city repeatedly protected the city from the Carthaginian Empire, the city exchanged hands between the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, and the Normans in the first millennium AD. Control over the city continued to change over the centuries, and because of its size and importance, the city became a cultural center, particularly during the Renaissance. In the 16th century, Pedro Alvarez de Toledo, a Spanish Viceroy of Naples, initiated numerous social, economic and urban changes in Naples. His efforts to rebuild the city enabled Naples to become the second largest city in Europe by 1550, surpassed only by Paris. This view serves as a document of urban development following the initiatives promoted by Pedro Alvarez de Toledo.

Antoine du Perac Lefrery of Besancon was born in France in 1512, and Italianized his name to Antonio Lafreri upon settling in Rome in 1540. In 1544 he established a business as an engraver and print seller, and began collaborating with Antonio Salamanca, an existing dealer, in 1553. After Salamanca's death, Lafreri continued to work on his own, and became the leading dealer in engravings in Rome until his death in 1577. Lafreri's focus was as a dealer and publisher, rather than as an artisan, and is credited with being one of the first to issue collections of maps in atlas form, assembled to order per a customer's specific requests.

This view of Naples was engraved by Etienne Duperac, whose imprint appears at bottom right ("SP" - short for Stefano Duperac, his Italianized name). Duperac (c. 1525-1604) was also a Frenchman who emigrated to Italy around 1550, and worked as an architect, painter, engraver, and garden designer. In 1565 he entered into a contract with Lafreri, who published the majority of Duperac's work through the next few years. Duperac is most famous for his views of Rome and his engravings of Roman monuments and antiquities. This handsome view of Naples became the standard view for Naples, and was copied by numerous cartographers. Printed on two sheets, joined.


Condition: B+

Issued folding, now pressed, on watermarked paper with several fold separations that have been professionally repaired, and very light soiling and toning along centerfold at top. A chip at top left, extending 1/4" into the image, has been professionally repaired with the image expertly replaced in facsimile. There are also expert and nearly invisible repairs to a small worm hole to the right of the centerfold (just below the western wall of the city) and to a 7" tear that extends from just below the Castel San Martino to the centerfold. The margins have been extended at left, right, and bottom to accommodate framing.

Estimate: $7,000 - $9,000

Sold for: $5,000

Closed on 9/17/2014