15 Jun 2017

The Most Beautiful Cities in Europe: The Edition compiled by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg 1572-1640

Germanisches National Museum

Reviewed by Vera Wilde

Swine, hilltop churches, and open space mark maps of the most beautiful cities in Europe 400 years ago. The old topographies show Saint-Germain-des-Prés - home to some of the 20th century's preeminent artists and philosophers, and now a bustling central Parisian district - surrounded by meadows. One bridge crosses London's River Thames. Open areas fill out its hip South Bank.

Of course some prominent cities of early modern Europe appear provincial to modern eyes. Populations boomed, developers built, and town walls gave way to suburbs. Braun, a theologian, and Hogenberg, an etcher and copper engraver, show that civilization as we know it is young. At the same time, their maps feature decay - castle ruins, a burned church tower. Creation is always new, destruction ageless.

Seeing these intricate hand-made engravings next to current photos, and the city boundaries on old maps under new, would have underscored how far we've come, how fast.

Exhibition The Most Beautiful Cities in Europe: The Edition compiled by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg 1572-1640 link
Start date 16 Mar 2017
End date 24 Sep 2017 (30 days ago)
Presenter Germanisches National Museum link
Venue Kartäusergasse 1, Nuremberg, DEU map
Image View of London, from the edition Hogenberg: Beschreibung und Contrafactur der vornembster Stät der Welt, Einzelblatt aus Band 1, 1572, courtesy of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg
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