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Merian, Matthäus

(1593 - 1650)

Merian, Matthäus

Matthäus Merian der Ältere ("the Elder", or "Sr.") (22 September 1593 - 19 June 1650) was a notable Swiss engraver.

Born in Basel, he learned the art of copperplate engraving in Zurich and subsequently worked and studied in Strasbourg, Nancy, and Paris, before returning to Basel in 1615. The following year he moved to Frankfurt, Germany where he worked for the publisher Johann Theodor de Bry, whose daughter Maria Magdalena he married in 1617. In 1620 they moved back to Basel, only to return three years later to Frankfurt, where Merian took over the publishing house of his father-in-law after de Bry's death in 1623. 1626 he became a citizen of Frankfurt and could henceforth work as an independent publisher. Matthäus Merian died after several years of illness in 1650 in Bad Schwalbach near Wiesbaden.

He spent most of his working life in Frankfurt. Already early in his life he produced detailed town plans in his unique style, e.g. the plan of Basel from 1615. With Martin Zeiler (1589 - 1661), a German geographer, and later (circa 1640) with his own son, Matthäus Merian (der Jüngere, i.e. "the Younger" or "Jr.") (1621 - 1687), he produced a series of Topographia consisting of 21 volumes, collectively known as the Topographia Germaniae. It includes a very large number of town plans and views as well as maps of most countries and a World Map—a very popular work issued in many editions. He also took over and completed the later parts and editions of the Grand Voyages and Petits Voyages originally started by de Bry in 1590

Important works:
Archontologia
Topographia
Theatrum Europaeum.
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