Sebastian MUNSTER.

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One of the Earliest Views of Jerusalem
[Basel, c. 1550]

Jerusalem.  MUNSTER, S./ CLAUSER, J.  [Basel, 1550Ierusalem civitas sancta, olim metropolis regni Iudaici, hodie vero colonia Turcae. 11 x 14 ¾ inches (image and text).  Woodcut with fine hand color; fine condition.                                             

Original woodcut view of Jerusalem of the mid-1550s. Unlike most early depictions of the city, this bird’s-eye view is not a retrospective work but attempts to depict the city it as it was at the time of publication.  As stated in its title, it was then a possession of the Ottoman Empire, which is also reflected by the several crescents atop buildings.  Solomon’s Temple is at left center, and King David’s tomb is shown outside the walls of the city at upper left.  The city at the time was still enclosed by its ancient walls whose major gates are depicted and named.  Several places relating to the life of Christ—Pilate’s court, Herod’s palace and the Temple of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher—are also shown.


            The view appeared in Sebastian Munster’s Cosmographia, the definitive compendium of knowledge of the 16th century and a work that contained some of the earliest printed views of several cities.  The initials of the artisan who prepared this woodcut, Jacob Clauser, can be seen on a building wall at lower right; it is quite unusual for woodcuts of this type to have been signed.

Laor, Early Maps of the Holy Land, no. 1087.


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