A rare and detailed separately-issued early plan of St. Petersburg by Johann Matthias Hase, printed in Utrecht by Johannes Broedelet.
This fine plan shows St. Petersburg shortly after the initial phases of its construction had been completed. In 1703, the site, at the head of the Gulf of Finland, was selected by Czar Peter the Great to be the place on which a new capital city for the Russian Empire was to be built. Peter pressed a massive labor force of serfs to build the city, and no expense was spared. Leading architects and artisans from across Europe were offered large salaries to dedicate themselves to the task. The overall project came to be overseen by the French landscape architect, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blonde, who had previously served Louis XIV, who was ably assisted by the Swiss architect Domenico Trezzini.
As shown, much of the city was laid out on Vasilyevsky Island, that lay within the mouth of the Neva River. As shown, the island is bisected by a series of streets that follow a rational grid, which in places were to contain massive squares. On the south bank was the Admiralty district and on an island on the north bank, above Vasilyevsky Island, was the St. Peter & Paul Fortress. One might remark that much of the city resembles a series of gardens, and this is, in good part, due to the fact that Le Blonde's signature passion was designing gardens.
In spite of the massive resources thrown at the project, the original Le Blonde-Trezzini Plan was altered as work progressed. Vasilyevsky Island was proven to be too low-lying and prone to flooding to permit the creation of the canals, nor was it viewed appropriate as the site of the main town. While the area would progressively be built-up as the 18th Century progressed, with streets largely following the lines of the proposed grid of canals, the main part of the city was built in the area which lay to the south of the Neva. A key to the right of the map identifies 71 points of interest (labelled A to E and 1 to 66), while an attractive view of the fortified island which guards the maritime approaches to the city, 'Kroon Slot' (Kronstadt), adorns the map.
The first printed map to depict a version of the Le Blonde-Trezzini plan was Nicolas De Fer's Plan de la Nouvelle Ville de Petersbourg (Paris, 1717). With some modifications, this was followed by Johann Baptist Homann's map of St. Petersburg, published circa 1720.
The present map was devised by Johann Matthias Hase and printed by the Utrecht publisher, Johannes Broedelet (fl. 1728-1771). Johann Matthias Hase, aka 'Hasius' (1684-1742), was a German mathematician, astronomer, and cartographer. Hase taught at Leipzig and his native Augsburg. In 1720, he became professor of mathematics at the University of Wittenberg.
The present map is greatly influenced by Homann's map, which is not surprising, as for many years Hase was associated with the Homann Heirs firm of Nuremburg, who published his map of Europe, Europa secundum legitimas projectionis stereographieae regulas (1743). Hase notably wrote a fascinating treatise on the ancient Israeli kingdoms of David and Solomon, as well as of the dominions of the Seleucids, including maps of Syria and Egypt, Regni Davidici et Salomonaei descriptio geographica et historica, una cum delineatione Syriae et Aegypti pro statu temporum sub Seleucidis et Lagidis regibus mappis luculentis exhibita, et probationibus idoneis instructa (1739). He also made a political map of Hungary and Southeastern Europe, Hungariae ampliori significatu et veteris vel Methodicae complexae Regna (1744).
Towards the end of his life, Hase drafted an important map of Russia, published by Johannes Broedelet around the same time as the present map of St. Petersburg, Kaert van Het geheele Russische Keizerryk. Mitsgaders Groot en Klein Tartaryen … nu vermeerdert met nieuwe ontdekkingen in't Jaer 1739 door den Kapitein Span(g)berg (Utrecht, 1743).
The present map is an especially fine and detailed early overview of St. Petersburg. It is also very rare, we have offered 1 other example in 20 years.