By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Original Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Size of Original: 13 x 18.75 inches (33 x 47.6 cm)
This map presents one of the earliest obtainable bird’s eye views of the great city of Milan in northern Italy.
The view conveys an impressive picture of the city's distinctively regular, nearly symmetrical layout. The medieval fortifications were replaced in the 16th/17th centuries by the bastion-like city wall, particularly easy to recognize in this bird's-eye perspective. The various moats of the city afforded added protection. The plan starts from the Castello Sforzesco (top centre), the former fortified palace of the Sforza Dukes of Milan, now a museum which houses some of Milan’s finest art, and which is now in the center of the present-day city.
Braun described the city as follows: "Milan can be numbered amongst the largest cities in Europe. Running through its suburbs are canals, along which all the necessities of life can be brought into the city by boat. So many different artisans live here that it is said that there are enough to rebuild Italy, but first you would have to destroy Milan in order to persuade its craftsmen and artists to migrate across the rest of Italy. The city has many magnificent houses, each more beautiful than the next, including its main church, with which few order churches in the whole world bear comparison in terms of size and marble décor."
The modern city is now the financial, fashion and media capital of Italy, with 1.3 million inhabitants.
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.