Catalog Archive
Auction 164, Lot 641

Superb Bird's-Eye View During the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire

"Byzantium, nunc Constantinopolis", Braun & Hogenberg

Subject: Istanbul, Turkey

Period: 1574 (circa)

Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. I

Color: Hand Color

18.9 x 12.8 inches
48 x 32.5 cm
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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 is one of the finest and most sought-after views of the city of Constantinople, shown during the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. The superb bird's-eye plan shows the Golden Horn, the original Genoese district of Galata and the Bosphorus viewed from the village of Scutari. Extensive fortifications surround the great buildings of the sixteenth century city at the time of Suleiman the Magnificent. Many important buildings can be distinguished, including the Eski Saray, Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene, Suleymaniye Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. European galleons and Turkish galleys fill the seas of the Bosphorus and in the foreground a mounted noble Turk is escorted by a group of Janissaries. At bottom are eleven portraits of Turkish Emperors from the 13th to 16th centuries. This is the first state of the engraving, with a blank roundel on the extreme right. Latin text on verso.

References: Fussel, p. 119.

Condition: A

An excellent impression with a hint of toning and marginal soiling at top right.

Estimate: $1,900 - $2,200

Sold for: $1,600

Closed on 9/13/2017