Rare Jansson Edition of Early Braun & Hogenberg View of Moscow Before the Great Fire
"Moscauw", Jansson, Jan
Subject: Moscow, Russia
Period: 1657 (published)
Publication: Illustriorum Principiumque Urbium Septentrionalum Europae Tabulae
Color: Hand Color
16.6 x 13.7 inches
42.2 x 34.8 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 elevated view of the old city of Moscow, drawn by Sigismund von Herberstein in 1547, depicts the city prior to the great fire that destroyed much of the city in that year. It depicts the city with starkly identical wooden houses, both within the city walls and in the trader's quarter across the Neglinnaya River that forms a partial moat around the city. In the heart of the city is the Kremlin, labeled Arx, which was constructed between the years 1485 and 1530, and several Orthodox Russian churches. There are a number of horse-drawn sleighs and people on skies that, while inconsistent with the various vegetation shown in the scene, are meant to represent major modes of transportation used in the city. In the foreground there are Russian soldiers (Moscovites) that represent the growing military power of Moscow under Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Ivan the Terrible). Latin text on verso.
This view was originally created by Braun & Hogenberg and published in their Civitates Orbis Terrarum beginning in 1572. Jansson acquired the plates in 1653 and republished many of them in a series of atlases of town maps and plans, some with alterations. This plate had developed a crack at right, so Jansson cut off the far right portion of the plate and re-engraved the border, causing the title to be off center.
References: cf. Fussel, pp. 179-181; Shirley (BL Atlases) T.JAN-19a.
A nice impression with an archivally repaired centerfold separation that enters 1.5" into map image at bottom. There is minor foxing primarily in the blank margins and remnants of hinge tape on verso.