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Hans-Peter Höhener:

Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth's manuscript maps at the Central Library in Zurich

Cartographica Helvetica 29 (2004) 5–15


With the largest river engineering project of the 19th century, the so-called Linth correction, Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth (1767–1823) realized a masterpiece. His great passion, however, were the mountains. On his countless trips across Switzerland he drew over 900 panoramas and landscapes. Less known are his ca. 60 manuscript maps, which are conserved at the Central Library in Zurich.

Up until now only a few maps by Escher have been mentioned in the literature. Most of his maps have neither a date nor bear his signature. Usually the scale is also missing, and there is no mention of the source of copied maps. Most of his maps are based on the best printed maps of that time, such as the sheets of the Atlas Suisse. Only a few maps are actually made by Escher himself.

Escher's maps were not exact copies of the original maps. This would not have been possible because he usually painted the landscapes with a brush and therefore could not have copied the hachures of the engravings. The maps with their three-dimensional appearance show similarities to the hill-shading techniques of the Atlas Suisse. As far as the towns and cities are concerned, he was primarily interested in their location and their names, whereas details were kept to an absolute minimum. It is not known why Escher drew the maps himself. Perhaps he didn't own those maps, or he needed handier map sections for his travels, or he chose this method for memorizing the topographic areas that interested him for his excursions. Escher drew a few maps for military or political purposes, for example, maps of regions along the national border.

In this article there is a list of all known maps by Escher and, based on a few examples, the topographic bases that he used are analyzed.

Bibliographic note

  • Edited version of: Karten. In: Die ersten Panoramen der Alpen: Zeichnungen, Ansichten, Panoramen und Karten: Werkverzeichnis = The first panoramas of the Alps: drawings, views, panoramas and maps: Oeuvre catalogue. Ed. René Brandenberger. Mollis, 2002. pp. 406–434.

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