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Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg

Civitates Orbis Terrarum
Engraving with original hand coloring
Cologne, 1572-1618
The “Civitates…” was the first extensive series of town views that treated its subject matter in an accurate and meaningful way. Earlier collections of town views were far more limited in scope, and often made no real attempt to render the subject city with any degree of realism being simply a record of the existence of a town. Certainly the striking beauty and accuracy of Braun and Hogenberg's production was entirely unprecedented. Earlier collections contained no more than a handful of views, usually only of the more important cities, while the “Civitates…” contained literally hundreds of views, including many of smaller towns for which no earlier views are known. Even for the larger, important cities, the “Civitates…” is of the utmost importance to the history of their topography.