"Mantua", Braun & Hogenberg
Subject: Mantua, Italy
Period: 1620 (circa)
Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. II
Color: Hand Color
19.6 x 14.2 inches
49.8 x 36.1 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 lovely bird's-eye view shows the city of Mantua in the center of a lake, which made the city easier to defend. The lake is filled with various vessels, including one with a large fishing net, and the Alps can be seen in the far background. The Palazzo Ducale, the home of the Gonzaga family that ruled Mantua for several centuries, is shown adjacent to the San Giorgio bridge (at bottom center). French text on verso.
References: Fussel, pp. 184-86.
A clean and bright example with light show-through of text on verso, several creases that have been pressed flat, and a tiny tear and centerfold separation at top that have been professionally repaired.