Visscher Panorama of London 1616

The Visscher Panorama of London, also known as “The View of London,” is a magnificent panoramic map that offers a stunning glimpse into the urban landscape of the English capital during the 17th century. Created by Claes Janszoon Visscher, a prominent Dutch engraver, and cartographer, this detailed and expansive panorama provides a unique visual record of London’s architecture, streets, and waterways during a time of significant historical and cultural developments.

Claes Janszoon Visscher, a skilled Dutch cartographer and engraver, created his panoramic masterpiece. Born in Amsterdam in 1587, Visscher came from a family of artists and mapmakers. He was known for his expertise in producing detailed cityscapes and maps, and his Visscher Panorama of London became one of his most celebrated works.

The Visscher Panorama of London was crafted using copperplate engraving, a technique that allowed for intricate and precise details. It is a large-scale panorama, measuring approximately 7 feet by 1.5 feet (2.1 meters by 0.5 meters) when fully assembled. The map consists of four separate plates that create a continuous panoramic view of London.

The panorama showcases numerous key landmarks of London, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. Beyond these grand landmarks, the Visscher Panorama also depicts the spires of the many churches in London at that time – one of the few ways we can discover what the churches destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 looked like. 

Visscher may never have actually visited London himself. Historians have spotted several inaccuracies. For example, the River Thames is straight rather than curved and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has been simplified into an octagon. So it is now supposed that Visscher worked from a series of sketches by others that he compiled into the overall work. A similar Panorama by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1647 is more accurate and has clearly been made from the single viewpoint. Whereas the Visscher panorama seems to have been made from various different viewpoints. Despite that, it is still an extremely useful historical document. The next time you stand on London Bridge looking at the city, half close your eyes and imagine in the place of the new skyscrapers that  wondrous panorama of church spires that Visscher shows.

Visscher Panorama 1616
Visscher Panorama 1616