Rome Measured and ImaginedEarly Modern Maps of the Eternal City

Rome Measured and ImaginedEarly Modern Maps of the Eternal City

Jessica Maier

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226127637

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book recounts the history of a genre, the city portrait, through imagery of Rome. Among the most popular categories of early modern print culture, the city portrait was also one of the most varied, encompassing maps, bird’s-eye views, and other forms of urban representation. Through an exploration of seminal works dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, this book interweaves the story of this genre with that of Rome itself, addressing the key figures and specific contexts that shaped each image. Scholars, artists, architects, and engineers who shared a fascination with Rome’s ruins were spurred to develop new graphic modes for depicting the city. The resulting maps delicately balanced measured and pictorial forms of representation, past and present, realism and idealism. Portraits of Rome became canvases for documenting the rapid-fire urban changes initiated by a series of Renaissance and Baroque popes, for projecting ideas about the city’s current and future state, and for romanticizing, aggrandizing, or marginalizing its tangible signs of antiquity—or, for that matter, modernity.