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This is one of a set of copper printing plates that were used to produce a very detailed map of London – the earliest view of the city known. No printed version of the map has survived and only three plates, from an original set of 15, have been discovered. This plate shows the area of Moorfields, Shoreditch and a small area within the City wall. The fields around London can be seen, populated by archers practising their shooting, women pegging out washing on tenter frames and people strolling by the windmills of Finsbury Fields. Eventually the worn plates were sold to artists so that the reverse sides could be used for oil paintings. The painting on the reverse of this plate depicts Nimrod supervising the construction of the Tower of Babel.
There are two plates in the Museum of London collection (the other is 85.471) and a third in a German museum (showing the area around St Paul’s Cathedral). It is not known who commissioned the map but the plates were probably engraved in the Netherlands between 1553 and 1559.
The Museum acknowledges the financial assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the MGC/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.
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