Important early bird's-eye view of London, which appeared in Volume 1 of Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum.
The view was based on a now-lost twenty-sheet plan of London believed to have been made between 1547 and 1559. Tudor London with its suburbs now extends outside the city walls. At the heart of the city is St. Paul's cathedral with its tall spire, which was destroyed in 1561. The gardens of the manor houses and palaces stretch out in the direction of Charing Cross, linking the mercantile city with the royal court at Westminster. Across the Thames, spanned by the magnificent London Bridge, Southwark is depicted along with the bull/bear baiting rings, immensely popular sports during the Elizabethan era. The river is teeming with ships and a variety of boats.
The two panels of text, which flank the costumed figures in the foreground, describe the vibrant economy of London.
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.