Fine dark impression of this important early view of Cracow, first published by Braun & Hogenberg in Theatri praecipuarum Totius Mundi Urbium Liber Sextus Anno MDCXVII, the rare 6th and final volume of their monumental work of City Views of the World.
The view is based upon an earlier view by E. Vander Rye and was engraved by Georgius Hoefnagel. The view is one of the 500 plates later acquired by Jan Jansson, who re-issued the views as part of his town view work of 1657.
The view shows Crakow as it appeared in final years of it's reign as the capital of Poland. The city from the south, looking north across the Vistula River. George Braun wrote of Kraków in 1617:
Cracow has a very big marketplace on which stands a splendid town hall. Here justice is administered and important official acts are performed. . . . But the castle is so big that it can be considered a town in its own right. It is surrounded by such splendid buildings and palaces that even the finest castles and houses in Italy could be more beautiful or more magnificent. . . . But because the dukes and kings understood that to preserve the Christian religion it is also necessary to cultivate equally the good liberal arts and sciences and to promote diligence to the greatest possible extent, Casimir III set up a university in his city of Cracow, which was named after him in 1361, with the approval of Pope Urban V, and appointed scholars from Paris and Prague.
The present example is a fine dark impression, with not text on the verso.
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.