A Rare and Stunning Panoramic View of Naples
Subject: Naples, Italy
Period: 1704 (circa)
Publication: Nouveau Theatre d'Italie
Color: Black & White
40.1 x 16.5 inches
101.9 x 41.9 cm
This stunning panoramic view of Naples gives the burgeoning port city a three-dimensional perspective. Individual buildings, the layout of the streets, and the countryside are depicted in great detail, while the surrounding waters are teeming with galleons. At top center is the Castel Sant'Elmo, a star-shaped structure that was given its shape by a military architect, Pedro Luis Escriva from Valencia, from 1537-47. At bottom center is Castel Nuovo (Chateau Neuf), 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 (Chateau de Loeuf, translated as Egg Castle) was built, which received its name 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. A numbered key below the view identifies 29 additional locations.
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 engraving was originally created by Johannes Blaeu and published in his three-volume town book of Italy in 1663. The town book was successful and was re-issued several times, including by Pierre Mortier in three volumes in 1704 and a more extensive four-volume atlas in 1705. Mortier's imprint replaces that of Blaeu at bottom right. Printed on two sheets, joined as issued.
References: Shirley (BL Atlases) T.BLA-4b & 4c.
An excellent impression with wide margins and two small rust spots in the image at left. Issued folding with a few minor fold separations that have been professionally repaired and several extraneous creases that have been pressed flat. Small pieces of non-archival tape along the edges of the sheet on verso, far from the image, have been removed and professionally reinforced.