The FIRST STATE of an extremely rare seventeenth century plan of London by Robert Greene and Robert Morden (fl. 1669–d. 1703), engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar. Greene (fl.1673-88) was apprenticed to John Garrett in 1652 and made free in 1659 just prior to the restoration of Charles II. His family appears to have come from Stallbridge, Dorset. His earliest publications were maps of England and Germany in 1673, published in association with the likes of Robert Morden, John Seller and Arthur Tooker. Indeed, many of the works which bear his name appear to involve partners. We also know that he was unusual in having his own ‘presse to Print’.
Morden (fl. 1669–d. 1703) began with a shop shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. His reputation is underrated, indeed Worms describes him as ‘a prolific and inventive map maker whose critical reputation despite a string of innovations, remains undeservedly low’. In 1675 Greene and Morden collaborated to publish this fine plan and view of London. It was advertised in the ‘London Gazette’ for 21-25 October 1675 as being ‘on one Imperial sheet of paper, price 12d. with descriptions 1s. 6d. pasted upon Cloth and Rowle an Ledge 4s.’ The plan itself is a birds-eye perspective with the buildings shown in some detail. It extends from St. James’s Park in the west to Clerkenwell, Stepney and Southwark. The rapid growth of the city following the fire is to be seen especially in the east towards Stepney. Notably there is still a blank area where St. Paul’s Cathedral stood, as it was only in this year 1675 that construction of Sir Christopher Wren’s design began. Two keys identify 93 points of interest on the map with a further smaller one lower down listing 10 places in Southwark.
Along the top is a fine panorama of the city entitled ‘Prospect of London as it was Flourishing before the Destruction by Fire’. It is drawn from Hollar’s remarkable view of London from Bankside issued in 1647. It illustrates London from Worcester House, identified first in the key, to Wapping and St Catherine’s Docks to the east. It records the pre-fire St. Pauls Cathedral and in the foreground on the south bank the Globe theatre and the ‘Beere bayting house’. The whole is finished with an ornate title cartouche and scale bar bottom centre.
This is the work of the engraver Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) who holds a high reputation in the annals of English copper plate engraving holds a. He is one of the first to record in such detail and quantity the English way of life in the seventeenth century. The breadth and depth of his work is remarkable. He was born in Prague on 13 July 1607 as Václav Hollar, which he would later anglicise. His childhood was a life of some privilege which enabled him access to some of the finest art works of the era, including that of the principal court engraver Aegidius Sadeler with whom it is believed Hollar learnt to engrave. Hollar’s early work was in Prague but the turmoil at home encouraged him to go to Stuttgart, Germany in 1627. Two years later he appears to have moved further west to Strasbourg. His natural talent flourished alongside the likes of Jan van de Velde and shortly after Matthaus Merian in Frankfurt. He worked all along the river Rhine including the Dutch towns.
It was in 1636 that a fortuitous meeting occurred with the English envoy Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel. Hollar joined the entourage and was employed to record their travels. At the end of the year the Earl of Arundel returned to England and was joined by Hollar. For the next six years he worked closely alongside him. The Earl and his circle were fervent Royalists which it appears matched Hollar’s own sympathies. According to the eighteenth-century engraver George Vertue, he fought during the Civil War being present at the garrison of Basing House in 1644 with other notable artists such as Inigo Jones and William Faithorne. Provenance: acquire for a private English collection c.1985. Darlington & Howgego 26.1; Hind (1922) no. 18; Pennington (1982) 1005.i; Tyacke (1978) no. 47; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).