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Fine old color example of Braun & Hogenberg's view of Catania, from an early edition of Braun & Hogenberg's Civitatus Orbis Terrarum.

Striking bird's-eye plan of Catania, showing the Eruption of Mount Etna, along with two coats of arms.

The engraving offers a bird's-eye view from the south of the formerly well-fortified town of Catania with Mount Etna rising directly behind it. On the Piazza del Duomo (26), the cathedral of Sant'Agata lies opposite the town hall (3). Preserved within the town are a number of antique monuments, including the amphitheatre (15) incorporated into the city wall: originally able to hold up 15,000 spectators; it was almost as large as the Coliseum in Rome. To the left lies the church of Sant'Agata al Carcere (6), built in honour of the town's patron saint on the site where she was imprisoned before her death. The founding of Catania goes back to the 8th century AD, when it was settled by Greeks from the Island of Naxos.

The town was entirely destroyed in 1669 following a massive eruption by Etna and in 1693 by a catastrophic earthquake. Black lava stone was used to rebuilt the town, which is why it is often described as Etna's "black daughter".

Condition Description
Old Color. Minor repairs on verso.
Georg Braun Biography

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 Biography

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.