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Early 18th Century German Map of Rome

Decorative early 18th Century plan of Rome, published in Nuremberg by Johann Baptiste Homann, the patriarch of the largest German map publisher of the 18th Century.

The City on Seven Hills is encompassed by its ancient walls and the banks of the River Tiber. Numerous monuments and sites, all of which are still present today, can be seem on the view, including the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Piazza del Popolo, the Church of San Giovanni Laterno, the Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican, which is dominated by the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica and Gianlorenzo Bernini's great oval Colonnade that lines the square below.

The 14 coats of arms of the city's wards are shown along with a key featuring various place names in each district. A small inset in the lower center details the 'Seven Hills of Rome'. The map is beautifully adorned with two large decorative cartouches, one featuring an allegorical representation of the Pope, while the inclusion of several cherubs and architectural borders finish this spectacular composition.

In 1716, Rome was one of the largest cities in Europe, with a population of around 130,000. It was then ruled by Pope Clement IX (reigned 1700-21), who was noted for his sponsorship of archaeological projects, including the excavation of the Roman Catacombs.

Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) was one of the leading European cartographers, and in 1715 was appointed as the Official Geographer to Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor. Based in Nuremberg, he was more than any other individual responsible for reviving the great German tradition of map publishing, and his finely engraved maps and views were prized throughout the continent. The present view of Rome capitalized on northern Europeans' fascination with Classical Antiquity, and would have played a role on encouraging young German and English noblemen to make the 'Grand Tour' to Italy. Homann's business was continued after his death by his heirs and his former apprentice, Mattaus Seutter became a leading cartographer in his own right.

Johann Baptist Homann Biography

Johann Baptist Homann (1663-1724) was a mapmaker who founded the famous Homann Heirs publishing company. He lived his entire life in Bavaria, particularly in Nuremberg. Initially, Johann trained to become a priest before converting to Protestantism and working as a notary.

In 1702, Johann founded a publishing house that specialized in engravings. The firm flourished, becoming the leading map publisher in Germany and an important entity in the European map market. In 1715, Johann was named Imperial Geographer to the Holy Roman Empire by Charles VI and made a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Most importantly for his business, his reputation and contacts gained him imperial printing privileges which protected his publications and recommended him to customers. Johann is best known for this Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt, or the Grand Atlas of the World, published in 1716.

After Johann died in 1724, the business passed to his son, Christoph (1703-1730). Upon Christoph’s early death, the company passed to subsequent heirs, with the name of the company changing to Homann Erben, or Homann Heirs. The firm continued in business until 1848.