Posts Tagged ‘engraving’

Nolli map of Rome, Interactive version of 1748 masterpiece

Thursday, July 8th, 2010


[Editor’s: I was reminded of Nolli’s work by Michal Migurski this weekend. Fresh off the heals of his award winning interactive version of the 2001 Atlas of Oregon, Erik Steiner presents the original Nolli map in a Flash-based interface to toggle annotation layers and zoom into the engraving. Extensive scholarly background is also provided on the site. Eric is now the lab director of the Spatial History Lab at Stanford University.]

Republished from University of Oregon.

The 1748 Map of Rome, by Giambattista Nolli is widely regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city ever created and serves to geo-reference a vast body of information to better understand the Eternal City and its key role in shaping Western Civilization. The Nolli Map Web Site introduces students to Rome and the structure of its urban form; it illustrates the evolution of the city over time; and it reveals diverse factors that determined its development.

Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756) was an architect and surveyor who lived in Rome and devoted his life to documenting the architectural and urban foundations of the city. The fruit of his labor, La Pianta Grande di Roma (“the great plan of Rome”) is one of the most revealing and artistically designed urban plans of all time. The Nolli map is an ichnographic plan map of the city, as opposed to a bird’s eye perspective, which was the dominant cartographic representation style prevalent before his work. Not only was Nolli one of the first people to construct an ichnographic map of Rome, his unique perspective has been copied ever since.

The map depicts the city in astonishing detail. Nolli accomplished this by using scientific surveying techniques, careful base drawings, and minutely prepared engravings. The map’s graphic representations include a precise architectural scale, as well as a prominent compass rose, which notes both magnetic and astronomical north. The Nolli map is the first accurate map of Rome since antiquity and captures the city at the height of its cultural and artistic achievements. The historic center of Rome has changed little over the last 250 years; therefore, the Nolli map remains one of the best sources for understanding the contemporary city.

The intention of this website is to reveal both the historical significance of the map and the principles of urban form that may influence city design in the future. During the last half of the 20th century, architects and urban designers have shown a renewed interest in what the Nolli map has to offer, leading to new urban theories and a model for the study of all cities.

Interact with the map at UofO . . .

Change We Can Believe In

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

No, this is not a post about the U.S. presidential campaign. Rather, about the seemingly lost art of engraving. Yup, the same engraving used to make maps of yesteryear and still used (or under used) when coining and printing modern currency. Hip as the new quarters make the mint, they are still inferior works of art. When given a canvas of metal, treat it like metal and not plastic!

Reprinted from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Original post. Thanks Peter!

new british money

Above, the new face of British currency, announced by the Royal Mint. The striking new designs, selected from an open competition that attracted four thousand entries, are the work of a 26-year old graphic designer named Matthew Dent. They are Mr. Dent’s first foray into currency design.

Below, the new five dollar bill, introduced last month by the United States Department of the Treasury. The new design, which features a big purple Helvetica five, is the work of a 147-year-old government agency called the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It employs 2,500 people, and has an annual budget of $525,000,000. —JH

five spot us

Masterpiece: Staring Dürer in the Face (Wall Street Journal)

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Blog note: Here today, gone tomorrow? Original Wall Street Journal article posted below in full due to ephemeral nature of WSJ online access. I first learned of Albrecht Dürer (read Wikipedia article) in my cartography coursework at university. He’s got some killer engravings from the 1500s.  Read the original on WSJ…

His Self-Portrait From 1500 Dares You to Turn Away

By JUDITH H. DOBRZYNSKIMarch 15, 2008; Page W16

It has no title, and it occupies no grand place of honor at Munich’s Alte Pinakothek, where it’s just one painting hung among many, and many larger, works in an undistinguished second-floor gallery. But Albrecht Dürer’s self-portrait from 1500 would likely stop you dead in your tracks even if it did not play an important role in art history: It is a captivating, lush painting with a mysterious air that practically dares you to stop looking at it. No compendium of self-portraiture would be complete without it. In his book “The Greatest Works of Art in Western Civilization,” Thomas Hoving, the controversial former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (whose eye is unassailable even if his provocations are not), called the picture “the single most arrogant, annoying and gorgeous portrait ever created.”

Before Dürer, born in 1471, if artists depicted themselves at all, they kept their images anonymous. Egyptian artists, for example, drew themselves as background characters at least as early as 1400 B.C. By the end of the Middle Ages, artists had begun to show themselves as witnesses or subsidiary characters, perhaps as a bystander saint; occasionally, they moved to the foreground — as in 1433, when Jan van Eyck is thought to have painted himself in “Portrait of a Man in a Turban” but true to past practice did not label, or sell, the work as a self-portrait.

[Durer portrait]

Then along came cocky young Dürer, who first drew himself at age 13. With each portrayal that followed, he showed himself gaining in stature and elegance. In a 1493 painting, clearly labeled as a self-portrait, he wears a red, tassled cap and refined, somewhat aspirational clothing and holds a few flowers. In 1498, he has grown more assured, more natural, more genteel: He poses beside a window, turned slightly to his audience, in garments trimmed with gold lace.

In 1500, a bolder-still Dürer made his stunner: This time, Dürer faces front — a rarity at the time — and he stares directly, intensely at the viewer. His face, slightly elongated, is symmetrical; his long curly hair tumbles down onto a rich, velvety brown cloak, trimmed in fur. His right hand, Dürer’s creative hand, extends upward, as if it may be about to gesture, perhaps give a blessing. The light falls unevenly on him, also highlighting his right side and enhancing the painting’s realism. To his left, Dürer inscribed the painting: “Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colors at the age of 28 years.”

To viewers of his era, the image is unmistakably Christ-like. Both confident and self-conscious, sensuous and spiritual, Dürer’s work was destined to become an icon.