Comparison of Original 1544-1550 Map with Four Historical Derivatives (under development)
For the past 140 years, the 16th-Century Scenic Plan of Lyon (c.1544-1550, above left) has been almost completely eclipsed by the excellent 19th-century "facsimile" shown on the right (engraved between 1872-1876 - 326 years after the original was created!). Digital images of the facsimile have frequently been used with insufficient (in my view) mention of the fact that they are from a much-later duplication. A somewhat unfair example is an invaluable 1997 work - Richard Cooper's great introduction to The Entry of Henri II into Lyon: September 1548 by Maurice Scève (because it is black and white, using the 1876 version was probably the better choice).

Now full digital compilations of the two maps can be seen side-by-side and compared simultaneously.
The 1872-76 copy is mostly faithful to the original map and holds up very well as an impressive accomplishment in it's own right. However, there are significant artistic differences, particularly in the ornamental art (view the four corners of the map for examples of this). There are also various figures (boats, people, etc.) from the original that are not shown in the facsimile. Thus, while the facsimile is a valuable resource, it no longer serves as an effective surrogate now that technology makes the original map accessible (though still of great value in its own right).

The most compelling reason to view the original map alongside the 1772-1876 facsimile is that the outside edges of the assembled map have been erased by the ravages of time, and can only be guessed at based on derivative and contemporaneous sources (the original 25 sheets ( are preserved in the Municipal Archives of Lyon and were photographed for a 1990 publication). It is up to scholars to consider how accurately the 1872-1876 edges reflect the original. For a particular example suggesting differences, see the top of the first (top-left) sheet of the original. Traces remain of a letter (R?) that doesn't match the letter A shown in the same area on the 1872-1876 map.
Urbanist/Historian Bernard Gauthiez pointed out that some earlier Lyon maps based on the 1550 map also show directional labels along each edge, notably the Tardieu/Menestrier map of 1696 and the Moithey map c. 1783. Both maps have been digitized by BnF Gallica. The source for the Moithey map date is the Archives Municipales de Lyon's Forma Urbis project from 1997.

A recent upgrade to Zoomify (4.0), the visualization platform utilized for this project, has enabled the side-by-side comparison tool shown above. While the digital compilation of the 1550 map above (left image) effectively represents the 1544-1550 scenic map, achieving verisimilitude and providing meaningful access to the original, the digital image of the 1872-76 facsimile map (right image) is obviously at a far lower (and inconsistent) resolution. This effort was cobbled together from a multitude of publicly-available images, most notably those partially-available on the Museum Gadagne's website. Hopefully the Gadagne will allow use of their images of the 1872-76 facsimile - either of the 25 separate sheets, or a digitally-compiled full version.

Regardless, the above comparison of the two maps effectively addresses a question posed by Gérard Bruyère almost 25 years ago:
On sait bien comment l'image de la tour Effel suffit à évoquer Paris ; Fourvière, Lyon ; tel monument, tel lieu. Il y a semblablement un usage métonymique du "plan scénographique" comme si Lyon, la ville, était toute entière dans son ancien plan. Sans doute, est-ce là le destin et même la raison d'être de maintes cartes, plans ou vues. Pourtant, le plan de Lyon au XVIe siècle, en totalité ou en détail, est plus que le signe de la ville, il symbolise encore son passé prestigieux (43), sa permanence historique, l'époque de sa plus grande prospérité économique, de son plus haut développement culturel, en un mot, il est l'expression de son génie particulier. Miroir ou idée de Lyon, tel qu'en lui-même l'"éternité" le change.

...Celui-ci appartient désormais à l'imaginaire des Lyonnais. Et l'on ne peut pas plus en contrôler l'interprétation que l'on ne saurait recenser, aujourd'hui, toutes ses reproductions. Nous faisions remarquer, plus haut, que la notion de fac-similé dépendait, en pratique, de la nature du document reproduit. Un autre facteur, généralement sous-estimé, intervient dans cette notion, celui de la technologie de reproduction utilisée. Quelle invention technique nous relèvera ? C'est demander aussi quelle technique de restauration et quelle herméneutique à trouver.
Pour ne pas conclure, il aura suffi de terminer sur cette question :
combien de temps s'exercera l'autorité de ce nouveau fac-similé?
- Andrew Taylor, 02/12/16

  • Version 1.0 of a 3-D fly-over tour of the original 1550 map

  • For more information about this project, please read
    Historic Map Compiling Project – Le Plan Scénographique de Lyon

  • Map Sources

    Le Plan scénographique de Lyon vers 1550, Archives Municipales de Lyon, Lyon, 1990.

    "Lugdunum." Beschreibung vnd Contrafactur der vornembster Stät der Welt [Civitates Orbis Terrarum]: 1574 (S. Online–Ressource). Braun, G., Hogenberg, F., & Novellanus, S. (1582). Cölln: Kempen. Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg.

    Le plan scénographique de Lyon au 16e siècle [1876 Facsimilé]. Inv. N 1675, Musée Gadagne (More information). Lyon, 1876.

    Carte de l'Ancienne Ville de Lyon. Tardieu, Nicolas Henri (1699) [pour Claude-François Ménestrier]. Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

    Creative Commons License
    Le Plan Scenographique de Lyon c. 1544-1550 is a digital project by Andrew Taylor licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
    Powered by the Zoomify HTML5 Enterprise image viewer.
    Inspired by three projects of the Archives Municipales de Lyon, Lyon en 1550, Forma urbis and Lyon 1562, capitale protestante (as well as numerous other works).