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Sicily - Messina by Braun & Hogenberg 1574

TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE TEXT: Messina, the largest city in Sicily, famed for its position, wealth and natural harbour. Separated from Italy by the wild Charybdis. Known for its well-kept public and private buildings, a perennial spring, the remains of ancient statues and the weaving of silk cloth.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Messina is a splendid and wealthy city that is separated from Italy by a stormy sea and which possesses a harbour that was not built by human hands but was carefully contrived by nature. Along the coast, which is shaped like a bow, the sea between Messina and Reggio di Calabria is very tempestuous, raging and extremely dangerous for seafarers. Very little wheat grows here, for the city is surrounded by mountains and the sea, but there are many bushes and trees, whose best harvest is obtained from the mulberry leaves, because the silkwormes are fed from these. For the best silk in Europe is made in this city."

Messina is shown from the east, in a view looking down upon the crescent -shaped natural harbour and the city with its geometric plan. The image of Messina is dominated by the busy shipping in the harbour and the huge warehouses in the foreground. The city is well fortified and protected by citadels, in particular on its landward side. In the city stands the 12th-century cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta (17), with in front of it the fountain of Orion (29) by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. The Strait of Messina remains treacherous for shipping today. According to Greek mythology, its narrow channel held two sea monsters both deadly to seafarers: Scylla, who dwelt in a rock on one side, and Charybdis with his gaping whirlpool mouth on the other side. Since a tectonic fault runs through the Strait, Messina has regularly experienced seismic activity. (Taschen)


Braun G. & Hogenberg F. and the Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum, or the "Braun & Hogenberg", is a six-volume town atlas and the greatest book of town views and plans ever published: 363 engravings, sometimes beautifully coloured. It was one of the best-selling works in the last quarter of the 16th century. Georg Braun wrote the text accompanying the plans and views on the verso. A large number of the plates were engraved after the original drawings of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who was a professional artist. The first volume was published in Latin in 1572, the sixth volume in 1617. Frans Hogenberg created the tables for volumes I through IV, and Simon van den Neuwel created those for volumes V and VI. Other contributors were cartographer Daniel Freese, and Heinrich Rantzau. Works by Jacob van Deventer, Sebastian Münster, and Johannes Stumpf were also used. Translations appeared in German and French.

Following the original publication of Volume 1 of the Civitates in 1572, seven further editions of 1575, 1577, 1582, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1612 can be identified. Vol.2, first issued in 1575, was followed by further editions in 1597 and in 1612. The next volumes appeared in 1581, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1606. The German translation of the first volume appeared from 1574 on and the French edition from 1575 on.

Several printers were involved: Theodor Graminaeus, Heinrich von Aich, Gottfried von Kempen, Johannis Sinniger, Bertram Buchholtz and Peter von Brachel, who all worked in Cologne.

Georg Braun (1541-1622)

Georg Braun was born in Cologne in 1541. After his studies in Cologne he entered the Jesuit Order as a novice. In 1561 he obtained his bachelor's degree and in 1562 his Magister Artium. Although he left the Jesuit Order, he studied theology, gaining a licentiate in theology.

Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590)

Frans Hogenberg was a Flemish and German painter, engraver, and mapmaker. He was born in Mechelen as the son of Nicolaas Hogenberg.

By the end of the 1560s Frans Hogenberg was employed upon Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570; he is named as engraver of numerous maps. In 1568 he was bannend from Antwerp by the Duke of Alva and travelled to London, where he stayed a few years before emigrating to Cologne. There he immediately embarked on his two most important works, the Civitates published from 1572 and the Geschichtsblätter, which appeared in several series from 1569 until about 1587.

Thanks to such large scale projects as the Geschichtsblätter and the Civitates, Hogenberg's social circumstances improved with each passing year. He died as a wealthy man in Cologne in 1590.

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Messana, Urbs est Sicilie maxima, situ, opulentia, & tuta navium statione, ...

€350  ($409.5 / £297.5)
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Item Number:  5497
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > Italy - Cities
References: Van der Krogt 4 - 2698, state 2 (with privilege); Taschen, Br. Hog. - p. 119

Old map - bird's-eye view of Messina in Sicily by Braun and Hogenberg, with key to locations.

Date of the first edition: 1572
Date of this map: 1574

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 34 x 48.5cm (13.3 x 18.9 inches)
Verso text: German
Condition: Original coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 2698, state 2 (with privilege); Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.119.

From: Beschreibung und Contrafactur der Vornembster Stät der Welt. Köln, Heinrich von Ach, 1574. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:2.1)

TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE TEXT: Messina, the largest city in Sicily, famed for its position, wealth and natural harbour. Separated from Italy by the wild Charybdis. Known for its well-kept public and private buildings, a perennial spring, the remains of ancient statues and the weaving of silk cloth.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Messina is a splendid and wealthy city that is separated from Italy by a stormy sea and which possesses a harbour that was not built by human hands but was carefully contrived by nature. Along the coast, which is shaped like a bow, the sea between Messina and Reggio di Calabria is very tempestuous, raging and extremely dangerous for seafarers. Very little wheat grows here, for the city is surrounded by mountains and the sea, but there are many bushes and trees, whose best harvest is obtained from the mulberry leaves, because the silkwormes are fed from these. For the best silk in Europe is made in this city."

Messina is shown from the east, in a view looking down upon the crescent -shaped natural harbour and the city with its geometric plan. The image of Messina is dominated by the busy shipping in the harbour and the huge warehouses in the foreground. The city is well fortified and protected by citadels, in particular on its landward side. In the city stands the 12th-century cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta (17), with in front of it the fountain of Orion (29) by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. The Strait of Messina remains treacherous for shipping today. According to Greek mythology, its narrow channel held two sea monsters both deadly to seafarers: Scylla, who dwelt in a rock on one side, and Charybdis with his gaping whirlpool mouth on the other side. Since a tectonic fault runs through the Strait, Messina has regularly experienced seismic activity. (Taschen)


Braun G. & Hogenberg F. and the Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum, or the "Braun & Hogenberg", is a six-volume town atlas and the greatest book of town views and plans ever published: 363 engravings, sometimes beautifully coloured. It was one of the best-selling works in the last quarter of the 16th century. Georg Braun wrote the text accompanying the plans and views on the verso. A large number of the plates were engraved after the original drawings of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who was a professional artist. The first volume was published in Latin in 1572, the sixth volume in 1617. Frans Hogenberg created the tables for volumes I through IV, and Simon van den Neuwel created those for volumes V and VI. Other contributors were cartographer Daniel Freese, and Heinrich Rantzau. Works by Jacob van Deventer, Sebastian Münster, and Johannes Stumpf were also used. Translations appeared in German and French.

Following the original publication of Volume 1 of the Civitates in 1572, seven further editions of 1575, 1577, 1582, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1612 can be identified. Vol.2, first issued in 1575, was followed by further editions in 1597 and in 1612. The next volumes appeared in 1581, 1588, 1593, 1599 and 1606. The German translation of the first volume appeared from 1574 on and the French edition from 1575 on.

Several printers were involved: Theodor Graminaeus, Heinrich von Aich, Gottfried von Kempen, Johannis Sinniger, Bertram Buchholtz and Peter von Brachel, who all worked in Cologne.

Georg Braun (1541-1622)

Georg Braun was born in Cologne in 1541. After his studies in Cologne he entered the Jesuit Order as a novice. In 1561 he obtained his bachelor's degree and in 1562 his Magister Artium. Although he left the Jesuit Order, he studied theology, gaining a licentiate in theology.

Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590)

Frans Hogenberg was a Flemish and German painter, engraver, and mapmaker. He was born in Mechelen as the son of Nicolaas Hogenberg.

By the end of the 1560s Frans Hogenberg was employed upon Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in 1570; he is named as engraver of numerous maps. In 1568 he was bannend from Antwerp by the Duke of Alva and travelled to London, where he stayed a few years before emigrating to Cologne. There he immediately embarked on his two most important works, the Civitates published from 1572 and the Geschichtsblätter, which appeared in several series from 1569 until about 1587.

Thanks to such large scale projects as the Geschichtsblätter and the Civitates, Hogenberg's social circumstances improved with each passing year. He died as a wealthy man in Cologne in 1590.

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