"Basilea", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: Basel, Switzerland
Period: 1597 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. II
Color: Hand Color
14.8 x 14.6 inches
37.6 x 37.1 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.
A very detailed bird's-eye view of the fortified city of Basel based on Sebastian Munster's map of circa 1538. The city is strategically situated on a great bend in the Rhine River where the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany meet. The view provides great details of the individual streets, buildings, bridges, towers, churches, gardens and the busy river traffic. One of the most intriguing aspects of the view are the large tents and archery range that appear just outside the city walls at upper right. A legend at lower left locates 27 buildings. There is evidence of a crack in the plate near the bridge. Latin text on verso.
References: Fussel, pp. 176-77.
A nice example on watermarked paper with light soiling primarily confined to the blank margins, a few minute worm holes only visible when held to light, and a vertical crease adjacent to centerfold that has been pressed flat.