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Two of the Earliest Views of American Cities

Mexico City/ Cusco.. BRAUN, G. & HOGENBERG, F. [Cologne, 1572]
Mexico, Regia Et Celebris Hispaniae... / Cusco, Regni Peru... 10 5/8 x 18 1/2 inches.
Fine hand color; fine condition with wide margins.


Richly colored views of the centers of both Aztec and Incan cultures, as seen at the time of their conquest by the Spanish. These are among the earliest printed depictions of New World cities and are the only American city views that appeared in Braun & Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum, which was the first atlas devoted to urban mapping.
Mexico city is shown in the middle of a lake connected to land by bridges and causeways. As fantastic as this image seems to be, it is nevertheless based on firsthand knowledge, since it was derived from Hernan Cortez’s extremely rare plan of the city. In contrast, the orderly and symmetrical presentation of Cusco (based on Sebastian Munster’s view) owes more to European notions of an idealized city than to any direct knowledge of the actual Peruvian capital. Both of the two views are presented in lush, mountainous settings with native figures in the foreground; the Cusco view shows the Incan king in a palanquin borne by his servants and attended by courtiers.

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