MUNSTER, Sebastian (1488-1552). Lutetia Parisiorum urbs, toto orbe celeberrima notissimaque caput regni Franciae. Basel: Petri, 1550.

$ 3,500.00

Single sheet, (11 ½ x 15 ¼ inches). Fine engraved plan of the city of Paris (evenly toned with one or two pale marginal stains).

First edition in Latin, first published in German in 1544. From the IMPORTANT 1550 EDITION of Munster’s masterwork, “Cosmographia.” “Many of the early city prospects were used in a generic way to represent the idea of a city rather than an actual city. They look like real places with buildings and walls, but much of the detail is imaginary and the same woodcuts were used to illustrate very different cities. It was the idea of a city rather than the actuality of a particular city that seemed most important. City images served didactic rather than reporting functions. The same illustration was used to represent different cities even in many sixteenth-century texts. Munster uses town prospects in the first edition of ‘Cosmographia’ in 1544, but they were generic rather than particular illustrations. The publication of Johannes Stumpf’s ‘Schweizer Chronik’ in 1548, with its more accurate representation of Swiss cities, prompted Munster to revise his city views in the 1550 edition of ‘Cosmographia’ [as here]” (Short, p. 105).

“The two-page cityscape illustrations were remarkable for their verisimilitude, their almost house-for-house level of accuracy. Cities had been depicted individually to a similar level before the 1550 ‘Cosmographia,’ but as a collection, the uniformity of quality was unprecedented. The ambition was to show cities true-to-life, ‘ad vivum’” (McLean, p. 226). Matthew McLean, “The Cosmographia of Sebastian Munster: Describing the World in the Reformation.” John R. Short, “Making Space: Revisioning the World, 1475-1600.”