Catalog Archive
Auction 178, Lot 314

Superb Bird's-Eye Plan of Vilnius

"Vilna Lituaniae Metropolis", Braun & Hogenberg

Subject: Vilnius, Lithuania

Period: 1606 (circa)

Publication: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Vol. III

Color: Black & White

19.6 x 14.4 inches
49.8 x 36.6 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 a superb bird's-eye plan of Vilnius illustrating its strategic location at a vital river crossing on the ancient east-west trade route. The large warehouse complex with numerous haus is located along the river reflecting the city's importance within the Hanseatic League. Among the mostly wooden buildings, are the masonry ancient castle (#1 on the key), imperial palace (#3), Stanislas cathedral (#4), St. John's cathedral (#14), and gothic churches of St. Anna and St. Bernard (#12). The city is completed enclosed within heavily fortified masonry walls. Braun and Hogenberg's view was likely taken from a drawing by Flemish artist, Guillebert de Lannoy, who visited the city in 1414. Much of the city had been rebuilt in stone and brick by the time this view was first published in 1581 in the Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Latin text on verso.

References: Fussel, pp. 257, 260-61.

Condition: B+

A bright sheet of watermarked paper with a tear that enters 2" into image at top that has been archivally repaired. There are several other short tears confined to the blank margins that have also been archivally repaired. The impression is faint in several areas around the edge of the image.

Estimate: $1,600 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,600

Closed on 6/10/2020