Two Views of Prague by Braun & Hogenberg
Fine old colored example of this scarce pair of views of Prague, from Part 5 of Braun & Hogenberg's Civitas Orbis Terrarum.
This view of the city from the north shows on the right the Hradcany castle, with the Lesser Quarter (Mala Strana) below, from where the Charles bridge leads into the Old Town. The Lesser Quarter was charted as an independent town in 1257, the old town having already received its own, separate charter in 1230.
The Gothic Teyn church with its two towers can be seen on the left, directly above the bend in the Vltava River. Nearby stands the town hall, with Prague's famous astronimical clock, the Orloj. The clock was first installed in a simple form in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronimical clock in the world. The present plate offers a detailed view from the south of the all-dominating Hradcany. The wide steps that formerly led from St Matthew's gate up to the fortress complex can be seen on the left. Towering above its surroundings in the centre is St Vitus's cathedral, which was begun in 1344 and houses the tombs of Charles IV and his son Wenceslas IV. Further right lies the twin-tower Romanesque church of St George, directly attached to St George's monastery from the mid-12th century. On the far right is the Black Tower.
This pair of views appeared in Part 5 of Braun & Hogenberg's work, and is therefore more rarer than first view of Prague from this work, which is paired with a view of Eger.
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.