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Description

Striking view of the town and harbor of Riga, including a coat of arms.

Matthaus Merian (1593-1650) was a Swiss engraver and one of the most prolific engraver's of town views in the 17th Century. Merian learned the art of copperplate engraving in Zurich and subsequently worked and studied in Strasbourg, Nancy, and Paris, before returning to Basel in 1615. The following year he moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where he worked for the son of Theodor de Bry, the publisher Johann Theodor de Bry, whose daughter Maria Magdalena he married in 1617. In 1620 they moved back to Basel, only to return three years later to Frankfurt, where Merian took over the publishing house of his father-in-law, after de Bry's death in 1623. In 1626, he became a citizen of Frankfurt and could henceforth work as an independent publisher.

Merian spent most of his working life in Frankfurt. His first town view was a plan of Basel from 1615. With Martin Zeiler (1589 - 1661), a German geographer, and later (circa 1640) with his own son, Matthäus Merian (1621 - 1687), Mrian produced a series of Topographia, which grew to 21 volumes, collectively known as the Topographia Germaniae. In 1647, his daughter Anna Maria Sibylla Merian was born, who would become a pioneering naturalist and illustrator. Matthäus Merian died after several years of illness in 1650 in Bad Schwalbach near Wiesbaden.

After his death his sons Matthäus and Caspar took over the publishing house and continued publishing the Topographia Germaniae and the Theatrum Europaeum under the name Merian Erben (i.e. Merian Heirs).

Matheus Merian Biography

Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century