"La Sierra de Sant Adrian en Biscaia de Georgio Houfnaglio Depinta", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: San Adrian, Spain
Period: 1585 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. V
Color: Hand Color
19.1 x 13.8 inches
48.5 x 35.1 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.
This interesting engraving focuses on the people and importance of the province of Biscay. The central view shows the commercial and pilgrimage route (El Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James) through the St. Adrian Tunnel, as drawn by Georg Hoefnagel in 1567. This route through the Pyrenees, linking France and Spain, was heavily used from the 15th to the 18th century. Inside the tunnel is the inn for pilgrims that was built in the 16th century. The view is flanked by full-length portraits of Biscayan nobility; at left a matron and at right a maiden. Below, several figures display the various costumes and occupations of the Basque people; Biscayan peasants on the way to market, Biscayan and Cascon girls, an Aquitaine woman, Biscayan and Cascon matrons from Bayonne, and women on their way to church in Bayonne. On verso, there is French text and an alternate title: Le Mont et Grotte S. Andre en Biscaie.
References: Fussel, p. 366.
On a watermarked sheet with light toning, a few spots of foxing, and a tiny abrasion on the neatline at top. There are a couple short splits along the centerfold that have been closed on verso with archival material.