Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg. “Gandavum, Amplissima Flandriae Urbs.” [Ghent, Belgium]. From Braun & Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Volume I.
Cologne: Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg, -1575. 13 1/4 x 19. Original hand color. Chip in top margin. Else, very good condition. French text on verso.
A lovely bird’s eye view of Ghent, Flanders, from Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum, one of the most important works from the early days of modern cartography and topographical illustration. Braun, the editor, and Hogenberg, the engraver, worked for over twenty years to produce their “towns of the world,” the first systematic depiction of views of cities throughout the world. This work, issued in six volumes from 1572 to 1617, was a monumental piece of Renaissance learning and was designed to complement Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas. These two atlases, both firsts of their type, were in response to a new interest in the nature of the world by the Western European population. This nascent interest was spurred both by the existence of a growing middle class and the relatively new general availability of printed books. This fine print is an excellent example of the content of one of the greatest of these volumes. The bird’s eye view shows this important Flemish city with impressive detail. The city is located on the confluence of the Schedlt and Lys Rivers; its older name of Ganda comes from the Celtic word for confluence. At the time this print was issued, Ghent was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in northern Europe, though it suffered severely during the religious wars of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A walled fortress on an island surrounded by a moat is shown at one edge of the sprawling residential city, with each building and church nicely delineated. Of interest are the many windmills shown in the surrounding fields. A wonderful sixteenth century view of this important urban center.
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