TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE TEXT: Magdeburg was called Parthenopolis (virgin city) after Venus, who was once worshipped here: it is the capital of Saxony, remarkable for its wealth and power and known for its narrow city walls and its proximity to the Elbe.
COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Magdeburg [...] is the noblest city in Saxony [...]. Here there are splendid houses, magificent streets, large and richly decorated churches: the chruch of St Maurice built by Emperor Otto is particularly handsome. In Magdeburg there used to be a fortified castle surrounded by fishermen's huts like a village or some other open bourg. There used to be burgraves here as in Nuremberg: whether they were Saxons or Vandals, however, is uncertain. It is known, however, that after Otto a burgraviate was created by Imperial mandate and numbered amongst the four burgraves in the empire."
In this plan view seen from a lofty bird's-eye perspective, Magdeburg - the name is probably derived from 'Magadoburg" (German for mächtige Burg or "mighty fortress") - lies on the right bank of the Elbe. The Gothic cathedral of SS Maurice and Catherine is clearly recognizable on the right (Der Dom). Further left is the ensemble of St John's church, where Martin Luther preached in 1524, and the town hall overlooking the Alter Markt, the old market square on which it is also possible to make out the famous equestrian statue of the Magdeburg Knight and a Magdeburg Roland statue. (Taschen)
A fine early view of Magdeberg in Saxony, published by Braun & Hogenberg in their monumental 6 volume Civitatus Orbis Terrarum.
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.