The Visscher Panorama of London in 1616

Claes Visscher’s Panorama of London in 1616 is one of the finest views we have of London before the Great Fire. It is over two metres long, so perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no complete, high quality, images of it on the net.

Thanks to Peter Harrington Rare Books I am very happy to be able to share this stunning image, complete and in colour for the first time.

Click on the small image below for a full size version or scroll down to see the panorama in sections.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. Image courtesy of Peter Harrington. All rights reserved.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616.
Image courtesy of Peter Harrington. All rights reserved.

This version of the panorama is a superb, rare, Victorian facsimile of the original. A beautifully hand coloured view of London  from the south. You can see an original uncoloured high quality version here but it is incomplete.

This left hand section showing Westminster in the West is omitted from many on-line images or it is reproduced in very low quality.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Left)

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Left)

Continuing east along the river, the next section contains a wonderful view of St Paul’s Cathedral, after losing its spire in the 1561 lightening strike but before the Great Fire of 1666.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Left Middle)

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Left Middle)

In the centre of the panorama the spires of City churches dominate.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Middle)

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Middle)

London Bridge, then the only bridge,  can be seen complete with severed heads on spikes. St Mary Overie, in the foreground, was later to become Southwark Cathedral.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Right Middle)

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Right Middle)

In the final section we can see The Tower of London and St Katherine’s Docks.

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Right)

The Visscher Panorama of London, 1616. (Right)

The panorama still excites debate in certain circles. Some of the architectural detail, such as the shape of Shakespeare’s Globe, is often questioned. Others will point out that several churches and other buildings are omitted entirely. These inaccuracies could be due to the fact that Visscher lived and worked in Amsterdam and probably never visited London.

However, I think that that taken as as a whole this view is still  a magnificent early representation of London and will leave it to others to point out any faults in the comments section below.

You can see the Visscher Panorama for yourself at Peter Harrington Rare Books and, if your pockets are deep enough, you can take it home with you for £4,500 (framed).

Peter Harrington
100 Fulham Road
Chelsea, London, SW3 6HS

The Shop is Open:
Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm

Very many thanks to staff at Peter Harrington for enabling me to share this image here, especially to Ruth for her brilliant photography and to Emilie for first showing me the original.

The author of this blog is a fully qualified and insured City of Westminster Tour Guide who runs unique walking tours and private tours in London.

All Public Walking Tours are bookable here via Eventbrite.

I also offer Private Tours, Private Events and provide Consultancy Services for media and education professionals in London. You can read Reviews of  Walks and see some recent projects here. Please feel free to contact me about any of these services.

7 Responses to The Visscher Panorama of London in 1616
  1. SilverTiger
    September 13, 2012 | 12:06 pm

    When we remember that even our nation’s most prestgious maps, the Ordnance Survey maps, contain errors, we should not be too critical of errors in the Visscher Panorama. I would suggest that its value these days lies less in it providing an accurate map of the London of its day then in giving us a unique view, in a pictorial style, of London as people of the time might have seen it.

    Its charm lies in the fact that as well as being a valuable historical document it is also a thing of beauty that we can admire and enjoy for its aesthetic qualities.

    Some modern artists have undertaken to produce accurate panoramas of cities, and the work proves to be long and arduous. This should help us appreciate what an achievement the Visscher panorama is and why such works are rare.

  2. M@
    September 13, 2012 | 12:23 pm

    Peter, you are a prince among men. Keep up the great work.

  3. ken lewis
    January 26, 2013 | 6:56 pm

    hi I have come by a similar 4 section copy of this
    print which I believe is victorian.
    It is uncoloured and without a frame.
    Could anyone give me an idea as to its value?

  4. ken lewis
    January 26, 2013 | 7:01 pm

    hi I was just wondering how rare this print is as ive
    come into the possession of a similar one though it is
    unframed and not coloured.

    • Annatjie Orchison
      November 30, 2013 | 11:16 am

      I obtained a print of a full sized view of Shakespeare’s London 1616 by Claes Visscher in black/white and it is framed. Like others in possession of Visscher’s work/prints I’m interested to know about it’s rarity and possible value.

      Your reply will be highly appreciated.
      Kind regards
      Annatjie

  5. ken lewis
    January 26, 2013 | 7:05 pm

    hi I have obtained a similar copy of this print but
    its a bit too big for the wall!

  6. Daud Tahir
    November 19, 2013 | 8:56 pm

    I have got one in 4 parts, black and white and old one. Where can show to asses its print date and value?

Leave a Reply