Birds-eye view of Venice created with six joined pieces of paper; linen mat with gold edged frame

View of Venice, 1500

Not on Viewexpand_more

Long before the advent of balloons and other aircraft, Jacopo de' Barbari created a bird's-eye view of Venice through the power of his intellect and imagination. The mural-size print was unprecedented in scale when it was published in the year 1500. Every building, canal, and open square is documented here. One imagines Barbari and his assistants climbing up the city's 103 bell towers in order to survey the dense urban landscape. The View of Venice also features the maritime activities that made the city an international center of trade. Mercury, the god of commerce, presides over the city, while watchful Neptune, god of the seas, rides his dolphin through the harbor.

The incredible advance in the presentation and dissemination of information makes this the Google Earth of its day. The View is a landmark in the history of printmaking. It was printed in sections from six carved wooden blocks. Each part is so big that the individual sheets of paper were the largest ever produced in Europe at that time. When published, the View was very expensive, and most examples were probably displayed on walls. The result is that only a dozen of the original edition are known to survive. Mia's example, acquired in 2010, was the first to change hands in 55 years; it is one of just three in America and is in unusually good condition.

Details
Title
View of Venice
Artist Life
(Venice), c. 1460/70–before 1516
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2010.88
Provenance
André Masséna (b. Nice 1758-d. Paris 1817), 1st duc de Rivoli, 1st prince d'Essling, by descent to his son, François Victor Masséna (b. 1799-d. 1863), 2nd duc de Rivoli, 3rd prince d'Essling (1821), by descent to his son, Victor Masséna (b. Paris 1836-d. Paris 1910), 3rd duc de Rivoli, 5th prince d'Essling; by descent to his son, André Prosper Victor Eugène Napoléon Masséna (b. Paris 1891-d. Neuilly 1974), 4th duc de Rivoli, 6th prince d'Essling, by descent to his son, Victor André Masséna (b. Neuilly 1950), 5th duc de Rivoli, 7th prince d'Essling, France (until 2010; sold to unnamed European book dealer and Daniel Crouch); [Daniel Crouch Rare Books, Oxford and London, England, 2010; sold, December 10, to Mia]
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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Birds-eye view of Venice created with six joined pieces of paper; linen mat with gold edged frame