Decorative early view of Braun & Hogenberg's first view of Moscow, from a slightly elevated viewpoint from across the frozen Moskva River, first published in 1575.
The walled center of the old city is depicted with its many churches. The map shows illustrations of people riding horse-drawn sleighs and a very early depiction of cross country skierst. In the foreground, two cows and a number of armed Russian soldiers are shown on horseback. These graphically reflected the growing military power of Moscow under Grand Duke Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible), who was the first to assume the title of Tsar of Russia and who established the city as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Russia in 1547, not long before this image was made.
The view appeared in Braun & Hogenberg's Civitatus Orbis Terrarum, the most important town book of the 16th Century. Braun compiled the work while serving as the Canon of Cologne, drafting plans to produce over 500 city views and maps. The work was published in six parts between 1572 and 1617. Most of these engravings were made by Simon Novellanus and Frans Hogenberg, often after drawings by Joris Hoefnagel.
This is the first of the two plans of Moscow done by Braun and Hogenberg. A second appeared in the last volume, published in 1618, necessitated by Ladislas of Poland, who rampaged through the city in 1611.
Cartouche Translation: Moscow, capital of the eponymous region, twice as large as Prague in Bohemia, has wooden buildings, many streets, but scattered, with wide spaces in between them. The Moskva irrigates the city.
Braun's text, in English: "But because of its size the city has no proper end and also it has not been sufficiently fortified with walls, moats or ramparts, but the streets are closed with barriers at several places; when night falls, a strong guard is placed there, so that no one can pass through at night after a certain hour. [...] The Moskva River flows around part of the city, and it is joined very close to the city by the Yauza, which, due to its high bank, can only rarely be waded through."
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 ever 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 one member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands.
During the 1550s, Frans worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There, he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570, along with Johannes van Deotecum and Ambrosius and Ferdinand Arsenius. It is suspected he engraved the title page as well. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for a different project, the Civitates orbis terrarium (edited by Georg Braun, engraved by Hogenberg, published in six volumes, Cologne, 1572-1617). Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
It is possible that Frans spent some time in England while fleeing from religious persecution, but he was living and working in Cologne by 1580. That is the city where he died around 1590. In addition to his maps, he is known for his historical allegories and portraits. His brother, Remigius, also went on to some fame as an engraver, and he died around the same time as his brother.