This beautiful bird's-eye view, published in Cologne in the latter part of the 16th century, offers a detailed portrayal of the renowned English university city. This engraving is notable for its precise depiction of key academic institutions, including Trinity College, King's College, and others, set within the context of the city's broader urban landscape. Accompanied by a cartouche, coat of arms, and a key identifying nineteen locations, the piece serves as an informative representation of Cambridge during the late 16th century.
This period in English history was characterized by educational and architectural growth, particularly in university cities like Cambridge. This era, part of the Elizabethan age, saw a flourishing of learning and culture, influenced greatly by the intellectual contributions of university scholars.
Detailing landmarks such as Jesus College, Christ's College, and Queen's College, the engraving provides insight into the architectural and institutional development of Cambridge. It documents the layout of colleges, streets, and other significant sites like St. Pauls and Bridge Street.
The view names Trinity College, King's College, Jesus College, Christ's College, Bennett College, Queen's College, St. John's College, Pembroke Hall, Saint Giles, Magdalen College, St. Pauls, St. Clemens, St. Johns, Bridge Wardt, Bridge Street, and many other landmarks.
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.