1638 Merian panorama of Paris — first plate with a self-portrait.
Matthaus Merian’s panoramic view of Paris, looking southwest from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont hills above the city. Prominently featured at center is the Hôpital Saint-Louis, built in 1611 by architect Claude Vellefaux on orders of King Henry IV of France.
In the foreground we see a depiction of Merian himself, sitting on a rock and sketching the view. Nearby are the Latin words “Matt. Merian ad vivid delineav” — it is this inscription that both informs us that this is a self-portrait, but also marks the view as published by Matthaus, rather than his son Caspar Merian. When Caspar re-engraved the view in a second plate, he removed the words “ad vivid.”
Beyond the Hôpital Saint-Louis we see the city of Paris itself, with famous monuments like the Notre Dame and Bastille clearly visible. This is the city under Louis XIII, at a time when Cardinal Richelieu was a powerful force. It is a city familiar to the modern viewer, oddly recognizable despite the centuries that separate the two.
A 3-inch wedge in the lower left has been reinstated by expert facsimile. Wear along the centerfold and some other scattered blemishes. Else very good.