"Mexico, Regia et Celebris Hispaniae Novae Civitas [on sheet with] Cusco, Regni Peru in Novo Orbe Caput", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: Mexico City, Mexico & Cusco, Peru
Period: 1590 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. I
Color: Hand Color
18.9 x 10.7 inches
48 x 27.2 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 great capitals of the Aztec and Inca civilizations are depicted at the time of the Spanish conquest. These are the only New World cities depicted in the Civitatis Orbis Terrarum and are very early views of the cities. Mexico City is shown inside its lake setting. Cusco is very orderly, laid out in a rectangular grid and surrounded by impressive walled fortifications. Native figures fill the foregrounds of each view and the Inca king, possibly Atahualpa, is being carried aloft on a covered throne. There is a crack in the plate, just to the right of the title "Mexico," which grew longer in later editions. Latin text on verso.
References: Fussel, pp. 132-35.
There are a few small worm holes along the centerfold that have been professionally repaired with a minor amount of neatline replaced in facsimile. A chip in the top left corner has also been professionally repaired, not affecting image.