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1642 Merian Panoramic View or Map of Venice, Italy

Venetia. - Main View

1642 Merian Panoramic View or Map of Venice, Italy


The height of Venetian culture.



  1642 (undated)     12.5 x 29.25 in (31.75 x 74.295 cm)


This is a beautiful full-color example of Matthäus Merian c. 1642 view of Venice at the height of its prosperity. The view looks directly north on Venice from a fictional highpoint in the Adriatic just south of Giudecca. The Piazza San Marco appears at center, with the Grand Canal winding its way through the neighboring islands Murano, Burano, Torcello, and Mazorbo, among others. The harbor is particularly bustling, with ships of all sizes and shapes waiting to dock. The armorial crest of the Republic of Venice appears in the upper right, crowned by the Doge's cap and the winged Lion of Venice at center.
The Bucintoro of Venice
Of particular note, the Doge's barge the Bucintoro or Bucentaur appears prominently in the Canale della Giudecca.. Styled like an ancient Greek trireme, the Bucintoro was the Doge's state ship. Covered in gold leaf, loaded down with statues, crystal and velvet drapes and powered by 168 oarsmen, its only function, according to Goethe, 'was to show to the people their princes in all their magnificence'. The first version of the Bucintoro was built in 1311, with subsequent versions being rebuilt several times over the centuries. The ship shown here, is the Bucintoro of 1606, the third iteration built for the Doge Marino Grimani (1532 - 1605). The Bucintoro was primarily used for the annual Sposalizio del Mare, in which the Doge is symbolically married to Adriatic.
Publication History and Census
This view was first issued in Frankfurt in 1635. Later states of the map exhibit wear to the plate. There were multiple reissues of this map, with some examples dating as late as 1815. The present examples is c. 1642. This appears in 3 different works by Merian, the Theatrum Europaeum, Archontologia Cosmica, and Topographia Italiae. All went through multiple editions well past Merian's lifetime.


Matthäus Merian (September 22, 1593 - June 19, 1650), sometimes referred to as 'the Elder' to distinguish from his son, was an important Swiss engraver and cartographer active in the early to mid 17th century. Merian was born in Basel and studied engraving in the centers of Zurich, Strasbourg, Nancy and Paris. In time Merian was drawn to the publishing mecca of Frankfurt, where he met Johann Theodor de Bry, son of the famed publisher Theodor de Bry (1528 - 1598) . Merian and De Bry produced a number of important joint works and, in 1617, Merian married De Bry's daughter Maria Magdalena. In 1623 De Bry died and Merian inherited the family firm. Merian continued to publish under the De Bry's name until 1626. Around this time, Merian became a citizen of Frankfurt as such could legally work as an independent publisher. The De Bry name is therefore dropped from all of Merian's subsequent work. Of this corpus, which is substantial, Merian is best known for his finely engraved and highly detailed town plans and city views. Merian is considered one of the grand masters of the city view and a pioneer of the axonometric projection. Merian died in 1650 following several years of illness. He was succeeded in the publishing business by his two sons, Matthäus (1621 - 1687) and Caspar (1627 - 1686), who published his great works, the Topographia and Theatrum Eruopeaum, under the designation Merian Erben (Merian Heirs). Merian daughter, Anna Maria Sibylla Merian, became an important naturalist and illustrator. Today the German Travel Magazine Merian is named after the famous engraver. Learn More...


Merian, M., Theatrum Europeaum, (Frankfurt) c. 1642.    


Very good. Some margin soiling and verso restoration. Wear on old fold lines. Right center fold line exhibits some infill repairs.


Moretto, G., Venetia. Le immagini della Repubblica. Piante e Vedute Prospettiche della Città dal 1479 al 1797., #69. Fauser, A., Repertorium älterer Topographie Druckgraphik von 1486 bis 1750 #14706. OCLC 494895196.