Cart 0


Posted by Lori Cohen, Gallery Director on

Lodovico Ughi's topographical map of Venice is a landmark in the cartographic history of Venice. It was printed from twenty copper plates on thirteen sheets, and is flanked by sixteen views of Venice. The Ughi map is the first and still largest topographical map produced of Venice based on accurate field surveys rather than on observation and copying of existing maps. Republished twice again during the century, it became the basis of all later topographical representations of the city, down to the fall of the Republic in 1797. Through its copies and subcopies, it dominated the field of Venetian map making well into the nineteenth century.

Over the centuries, Venetian map makers in general copied one another and did not significantly alter the appearance of the city from year to year. Among the exceptions are Jacopo de Barbari's magnificent bird's eye view of Venice printed in 1500 and Ughi's map of 1729. Not only are they the two the largest printed maps of Venice, but they served for centuries as models for all subsequent plans made of the city.

The bird's eye view depicted a city from a high oblique angle, enabling the cartographer to convey the vertical dimension of the buildings and architectural features of the city, while at the same time retaining a horizontal dimension, which relied on perspective rather than true scale. The intention was to impress the viewer. The advancements in science and technology in the eighteenth century improved the surveying and measuring techniques used by urban cartographers who produced works progressively more accurate and functional. By the 1730's bird's eye views no longer matched the standards of accuracy expected of urban surveyors who were now commonly depicting towns by means of a less decorative but more precise ground plan, the topographical map.

At the time of the printing of the Ughi map, Venice had been an independent republic for almost 1000 years during much of which she had been mistress of the Mediterranean, the principal cross roads between East and West, and the richest and most prosperous commercial center in the civilized world. The Ughi map is nothing less than an advertisement for the beauty, military might, and prosperousness of Venice. The title itself announces it: "Iconografica Reppresentazione della Inclita Citta` di Venezia al Reggio Serenissimo Domino Veneto" (Topographical Representation of the Glorious City of Venice Consecrated in the Reign of the Most Serene Veneto Domaine). Flanking the map portion eight on each side, are sixteen beautiful views of the city of Venice. Views of the city were included because the new planographic type of map now lacks the famous landmarks, attractions, and depictions of fortifications of the bird's eye view maps (beauty, affluence, and military might).

At the bottom left around the shield of the Morosini are seen putti holding, flags, pikes, and staffs - triumphal war articles. Francesco Morosini, the last of the warrior Doges, led the battle against the Turks in the War for Candia or Crete which was lost to the Venetians after 465 years of occupation in 1669. This symbol would not have been lost on Europeans of the time. The siege of Candia lasted for twenty-two years in which the Venetians, though from time to time aided by European allies, stood alone in the defence of the town and the encroachment of the Turks into Western Europe.  At top right is the depiction of an allegorical Venice, triumphantly sailing on the sea pulled by dolphins, sea animals, and divinities, with the lion of St. Mark at her feet, symbolizing her marriage to the Queen of the sea and the riches she derives from it. St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice. At the top left of the map, is the Vitruvian windrose, each wind direction personified by the head of a putti, and the eight major points of the compass, important for a city dependent on seafaring trade.

In the cartouche at the bottom right, is a dedication by Lodovico Ughi to Alvise Mocenigo, the Doge in 1729. He expounds on '...the glorious city of Venice, blessed by the Virgin, divine, Queen of the Adriatic, always envied, a constant sustainer of the Catholic religion, known throughout the world for her justice, feared by her enemies, defended in all times by her sons who have sacrificed their lives, ..., your most humble servant Calviai. Lodovico Ughi.

Because of the large scale of the map, for the first time place names are directly on the map, rather than using reference letters or numbers correlating to a text below. To distinguish urban elements, the streets are depicted with parallel lines, the religious buildings have closer parallel lines and letters, and the rios and canals are shown by wavy lines. The civic buildings are left in white.

The importance of the printed Ughi map in eighteenth century Venetian culture cannot be underestimated. The publishers, engravers, and artists involved in its creation were some of the most talented and prolific of their time. Though not conclusive, stylistic evidence points to the hand of Francesco Zucchi as the engraver of the sixteen views of Venice which flank the Ughi map.  Zucchi, a member of Baroni's guild, was a prolific book illustrator. The prints of the views, more refined, are directly copied from Luca Carlevarij's, famous Fabriche e Vedute di Venetia, published in 1703. Carlevarij was one of the famed Venetian "vedutisti" or view painters. Recent studies have uncovered a drawing of Venezia Trionfonte by Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734), an acclaimed Venetian painter, that can now be established as the preparatory drawing for the allegorical figures in the upper right of the Ughi map. The drawing is in album #56 from the library collection of Anton Maria Zanetti (Academia Gallery,Venice), a friend and patron of Sebastiano and Marco Ricci.

Left Side - Veduta della Chiesa Ducale di S. Marco - Veduta della Piazza di S. Marco versola Chiesa Ducale - Veduta della Piazzetta verso la Lecca - Veduta delle Prigioni architettura Sansovino - Veduta della Piazza di S. Marco dalla parte del mare - Veduta della Piazza di S. Marco verso S. Geminiano - Produrative nove architettura di Vincenzo Scamozzio - Procurative vecchie architettura di Mastro Bono Proto di S. Marco

Right Side - Veduta della Piazza di Rialto - Chiesa di S. Giorgio Maggiore Architet.ra di Andrea Palladio - Chiesa del Redentore Archi.ra di Andrea Palladio - Chiesa di S. Maria della Salute Architet.ra di Baldisera Longhena - La Lecca sopra la Pescaria Architettura Sansovino - Veduta della Dogana da Mare Architettura di Guiseppe Beloni - Veduta esteriore delle Porte dell Arsenale - Veduta del Ponte di Rialto Architet.ra di Antonio dal Ponte.

For additional information about this rare wall map of Venice, please contact Philadelphia Gallery Director Lori Cohen at (215) 735-8811

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →