An illustrated album of architecture Fischer von Erlach, Johann Berhard, Leipzig on Collections Sphere from Khalili Collections
This large-format volume, entiled Entwurf einer historischen Architectur in Abbildung unterschiedener beruehmten Gebaeude des Alterthums (Project for a History of Architecture through Pictures of Various Important Buildings from Antiquity and Foreign People), by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656–1723) was published in 1725, a few years after his death. Fischer was an Austrian architect and in 1705 he was appointed imperial court architect for Joseph I.
The book is considered one of the first to attempt an architectural history of the world. It includes nine Islamic buildings amongst its listing of thirteen ‘foreign’ buildings. The line drawings of the Iranian and Ottoman buildings are known to have been sourced from illustrated travellers’ accounts, but the addition of the View of Medina and the View of Mecca are remarkable for their originality. Underneath each picture is engraved explanatory text in German and French and they may be the first representations of Mecca and Medina in a European work.
According to the caption accompanying this view of Medina, the two drawings were the work of an unnamed Arab engineer, who presented them to the Sultan in Istanbul, and were later taken to Vienna. The plan of Mecca contains some of the known buildings in the haram, which are identified by a key, but there is still much confusion about what they are, and although the general plan must have been taken from Ottoman images available at the time, there is much which is incorrect perhaps in an attempt to exoticise the drawings. The view of Medina on the other hand is almost entirely inaccurate and may have been compiled from oral accounts.