Matthaus Merian (1593-1650) was born in Basle about 1593 and learned the art of copper plate engraving in Zurich. He married the daughter of Theodore de Bry and completed the latter parts of both the ‘Grand’ and ‘Petit Voyages’. He produced several engravings for Johann Ludwig Gottfried’s ‘Neuwe Archontologica Cosmica’ published in Frankfurt in 1638. Amongst them is this panorama of London, one of only a handful in the book. It is derived from the four-sheet panorama by Claes Jansz. Visscher published c.1616. Merian’s view depicts three theatres in Southwark, Shakespeare’s ‘The Globe’, ‘The Bear Gardyne’ and the ‘The Swan’.
A beautifully engraved panorama of London shown during the reign of James I, some 50 years before the Great Fire of London in 1666. The view details London from Whitehall to the Tower of London and is orientated from the south looking north towards the city and the hills of Hampstead and Harrow in the distance. The old Cathedral of St Paul’s is depicted without it’s steeple. The Cathedral had been hit by lightning in 1561 which destroyed the steeple. London Bridge is illustrated prominently overcrowded as it was with buildings. The heads of criminals and traitors adorn stakes on the bridge’s southern entrance.
The panorama also shows an unusual incorrect north turn in the Thames immediately below the Tower of London. This is derived from a later version of the Visscher view, a copy of which survives in the Folger Library. The whole is adorned upper left with the royal coat of arms and those of the City appear upper right. The key below identifies 43 locations. Darlington, I & Howgego, J. (1964) p. 7; Fauser (1978) 7949; Hyde (1985) no. 5 Visscher view; Scouloudi (1953) pp. 42-44.