"Mirabilium Sulphureorum Motium Apud Puteolos (Campos Flegreos Plin. Vulcani Forum Strabo Vulgo nunc Solfataria Vocant Neapolitani)...", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: Solfatara, Naples, Italy
Period: 1581 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. III
Color: Black & White
16.3 x 12.1 inches
41.4 x 30.7 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 unusual plate depicts the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) and volcanic crater, Solfatara, near Naples. The region has fascinated travelers and artists since ancient times and has been the subject of many monographs. Solfatara is the mythological home of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Contained in an elaborate cartouche framework, mythic figures from Vulcan's furnaces guard the entrance. The view portrays Georg Hoefnagel and Abraham Ortelius surveying the site of luxurious hot springs with aristocratic carriages transporting their patrons and the sulfur mines in the background. Hoefnagel's iconic signature (his first name Latinized to Georgius) is inscribed on a nail (German nagel) in the foreground. Latin text on verso.
References: Fussel, p. 265.
A fine impression on watermarked paper with light toning and an extraneous crease along centerfold. There are archival repairs to short centerfold separations at top and bottom, a tear that just passes the neatline at bottom, and a number of tiny tears along the edges of the sheet.