Back to menu

A 17th century engraving of Portus


14.5 x 10 cm copperplate engraving, sheet size 18.5 x 15 cm, engraved circa 1623-1650, printed 1678.

A scarce engraving from the 1678 edition of the monumental town atlas of Daniel Meisner, published by Paulus Fürst in Nürnberg. First published as "Thesaurus Philo-politicus" in 1623 and later known as the "Sciographia Cosmica", this collection of city views from around the world continued to be published for more than 50 years after Meisner's death in 1625, eventually comprising 800 magnificent engravings. Rich in allegorical imagery, the Meisner engravings are masterful examples of Renaissance art and culture.

This work has been somewhat unjustly overshadowed by the fame of Braun and Hogenberg, but in recent years there has been renewed interest in the fascinating imagery of the Meisner collection. Among the master engravers that contributed to this series, usually working from earlier sources, were Matthäus Merian, Sebastian Furck, Christian Stimmer and Meisner himself.

Each engraving is distinguished by a motto (usually in Latin) above the image and emblematic verses (usually in Latin and German) beneath. These mottos and verses are intended to relate to the history or culture of the city depicted, although the connection can be somewhat cryptic. It is interesting to note that topographical and other details in these engravings are often more precise than many engravings of the era made on plates several times this size.