By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 13 x 18.75 inches (33 x 47.6 cm)
The earliest obtainable map of Brussels, Belgium.
The plan shows an idealized almost circular view of the city with city walls nearly entirely ringed by a moat on one side and the River Senne on the other. This depiction makes clear the remarkable use of the region’s natural features as ships were able to dock inside the city proper by using a network of canals.
Chartered in 1312, as early as 1357 extensive city walls were built which enclosed fields and tracts of land within it. The city was made seat of the government by the Dukes of Brabant in 1383, by which time the population had already reached 50,000. Descendants of the Dukes constructed a great palace in the city in the 15th century, an era during which the city experienced economic prosperity and the arts and science flowered in the city.
During this time artists and craftsmen, manuscript illuminators, sculptors and goldsmiths all made their way to the city, permanently settling there. One of the era’s greatest artists, Pieter Breughel the Elder, lived and worked here and in 1569 was buried in Notre-Dame-de-la-Chapelle.
Commentary in Latin on verso: "Brussels, the noblest city in all Brabant, was chosen by the kings as their seat because it has springs that always flow, uplifting hills and healthy air and is very splendid to behold. [...] The royal palace, which lies on a hill with a chapel, was built by Emperor Charles V and is no small embellishment for the city, because there the lords of the Golden Fleece and the councillors meet for joint deliberations with the Governor. [...] A waterway was dug from Brussels in a miraculous manner, at great expense and with a great deal of work, for the benefit of locals and strangers. [...] The canal is over five German miles long. It was begun in 1550 and completed in 1561 to the great admiration of all."
This engraving is made after a plan done by Italian historian and statesman Francesco Guicciardini (1567), with some topographical details perhaps derived from a sketch by Jacob van Deventer (c. 1550). An interesting handwritten annotation in the right border, ‘AD 1610’ inked in an old hand, was perhaps written by one of the early owners of the map.
Georg Braun (1541-1622) was born and died in Cologne. His primary vocation was as Catholic cleric; he spent thirty-seven years as canon and dean at the church St. Maria ad Gradus, in Cologne. Braun was the chief editor of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the greatest book of town views of that time to be published. His job entailed hiring artists, acquiring source material for the maps and views, and writing the text. In this role, he was assisted by Abraham Ortelius. Braun lived into his 80s, and he was the only member of the original team to witness the publication of the sixth volume in 1617.
Frans Hogenberg (ca. 1540-ca. 1590) was a Flemish and German engraver and mapmaker who also painted. He was born in Mechelen, south of Antwerp, the son of wood engraver and etcher Nicolas Hogenberg. Together with his father, brother (Remigius), uncle, and cousins, Frans was a member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands. During the 1550s, he worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for the Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
Condition: This hand colored map is in B+ condition. Slight loss of color at places at the centerfold.
31 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60602 | T: 312-609-0016,