Werner’s Venice view is among a larger series of views of European cities in this format published by a group of related publishers in Augsburg, Germany, in the mid 18th century. They are often referred to as “Probst views” after one family of these publishers. These views typically depict the city from a slight elevation, not quite a bird’s-eye view. They are related to the earlier tradition of cartographic city views combining maps and landscape drawing as first published on a comprehensive scale by Braun & Hogenberg in Civitates Orbis Terrarum (Cologne 1572-1617). Nonetheless, the Probst views are each separately issued. The Werner Probst views are distinguished by the their large size that allows considerable architectural and landscape detail, extending to the delineation of farm buildings, boats and individual trees. Each includes a numbered key identifying important sites and buildings.
Friedrich Bernhard Werner was a German printmaker, draftsman and writer of chronicles; Bénézit states he was born in Reichenau, other sources indicate Silesia. As a young man he lived an itinerant and rather bohemian existence as a writer, translator and working in theater. Eventually he settled in Augsburg, where he drew views for the publishing houses of a Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756), Johann Christian Leopold (1699-1755) and Jeremias Wolff (1663-1724). From 1729, he specialized in panoramic views of towns and he traveled around Europe making nearly 100 views for the Augsburg publishers known as the “Wolff heirs,” which included members of the Probst family and their brother-in-law’s father, Johann Georg Hertel. From the 1740s he settled in Breslau as scenographer to the court of Prussia. In this period of his life he also produced a five-part topographical work on the Duchy of Silesia with some 3,000 pages of manuscript and 1,400 colored ink drawings.
Augsburg was a major European publishing center in the 17th and 18th centuries, and as proprietors died, their plates frequently were taken over and reprinted by other firms, sometimes operated by relatives with similar names, which has left many of the maps and prints produced there with complicated publication histories. In the case of Werner, his maps were published by a variety of Augsburg firms, and the ones shown here bear the names of different firms: Johann Friedrich Probst and Johann Georg Hertel. Both were mid-18th-century Augsburg firms that acquired parts of the business started by Jeremias Wolff (1663-1724). After Wolff’s death his firm was continued as “Wolff’s Heirs” (Haeres Jer. Wolffii) by his son-in-law Johann Balthasar Probst (1689-1750). After Probst’s death in 1750, his descendants divided the business and published under their own imprints: Johann Friedrich Probst (1721-1781), Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801) and Johann Michael Probst. Another part of the Wolff-Probst firm was acquired by the Augsburg publisher Johann Georg Hertel (1700-1775), whose son Georg Leopold Hertel had married a sister of the Probsts.
Publication credits: “F.B. Werner delin.; J.F. Probst, Haeres Jerem. Wolff y exc. Aug. Vind.”
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling. Paper joined from two sheets, as issued, with associated folds and joints. Printed on laid paper with paper maker’s watermark. The print is in a custom gold leaf frame with French mat that has some light wear and handling.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol 8, p. 716.
“Friedrich Bernhard Werner.” Wikipedia. 22 December 2005. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Bernhard_Werner (9 March 2006).
Ritter, Michael. [Maphist] “Re: Friedrich Bernhard Werner panoramic maps of cities.” 6 March 2006 and 7 March 2006. MapHist Mailing List. List Information: http://www.maphist.info. (7 March 2006).