13 x 19 inches. Early color, refreshed; marginal mend upper left, else excellent condition.
“The first surviving printed map of the whole of London and Westminster” (Whitfield). Moreover, it was the very first plan to appear in the Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, the earliest atlas of city plans and views ever published. Internal evidence such as the presence of the spire on St. Paul’s suggests that this work depicts the city as it was in the late 1550’s. Nevertheless, it is clear that Tudor London had then expanded well beyond the original walled city. Beginning to develop, though modestly, is Southwark, soon to be the site of the great Elizabethan theatres. At the time of this plan, it was known as an area of low life, illustrated by the bull and bear rings on the plan. Expansion can also be seen beyond Aldgate, Ludgate and Newgate. “Above all, the Strand has emerged as a natural highway linking the City with Westminster. This was the thoroughfare of great houses—Arundel, Somerset, the Savoy, Suffolk--belonging to the nobility, whose properties faced the river, with landing stages or water-gates” (Whitfield).
As was the case with most early depictions of cities, this one is a hybrid of a plan and a view. While laid out as a street plan, the engraving also utilizes some of the visual vocabulary of the view. Buildings are shown in elevation; trees and animals cast shadows; gardens are illustrated to an extent; and river traffic is depicted with some realistic and dynamic detail. Further humanizing the image are four figures in the foreground--noblemen and women of different ages in the dress of the period.
* Goss, The City Maps of Europe, pl. 31; Whitfield, P. London A Life in Maps, p. 35; Howgego, J. Printed Maps of London, pp. 9-10, no. 2.