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Images from eight wars fought between 1570 and 1718

Arnold van Westerhout (1651-1725)

Battle of Osijek, 1685

Pianta et alzata della Citta’ e famoso Ponte d’Essech, in / gran parte incendiato dall Armi Imperiali sotto la condot / ta del Marescial Gnle Conte Leslé published 1685

Etching and engraving; view and text printed from separate copperplates on one sheet of paper; gilt edges left, right and bottom; not mounted | 34.8 x 51.3 cm (image and neatline of view) | RCIN 724035

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A medium/high oblique view of the Battle of Osijek [Essek, Essick], fought on 11 August 1685 between the Imperial Habsburg army, commanded by James, 2nd Count Leslie, and the Turks, resulting in an Imperial victory. Great Turkish War (1683-99)

The view is taken from the south-east of the town of Osijek, looking north-west, over the main conflict to the long bridge which crosses the Drava and the surrounding marshes, ending at the fortress of Darda (45°37ʹ41ʺN 18°41ʹ59ʺE). According to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), who travelled in the area between 1716 and 1718, ‘The bridge was esteemed one of the most extraordinary in the world, being eight thousand paces long, and all built of oak. It was burnt and the city laid in ashes by Count Lesley, 1685, but was again repaired and fortified by the Turks, who, however, abandoned it in 1687.’ Worthington records that Leslie’s army comprised 30,000 troops.

The background to this event is given by Charles Leslie, 26th Baron of Balquain: ‘[Essick] is a place of great commerce, being the principal thoroughfare between Turkey and Hungary. It is not naturally a strong place, but the Turks bestowed great pains in fortifying it. It is remarkable for its bridges, built of oak, one being 8565 paces long and 17 paces broad. Leading from the city it passed over the Save, through broad marshes, and across the river Tennes, to the fort of Darda in Lower Hungary. Another bridge leads from Essick over the Drave and the marshes on each side of the river, which bridge is five miles long, and so broad that three waggons may go abreast. it had wooden fortified towers every quarter of a mile. These bridges were erected by Solyman the Magnificent, in 1521, after he had taken Belgrade … The latter bridge was the one burned by Count Leslie, and it was again destroyed by the Duke of Lorraine in 1687.’ There seems to have been only one bridge and Charles Leslie appears to have conflated information from different sources.

There are faint indications of a previous design for this print which have been imperfectly erased. They are not widespread and probably indicate a change in design, rather than a wholesale re-working of a plate following the erasure of a completely different image. For example, in the left foreground, the right hand wheel of the right gun carriage appears to have been repositioned slightly lower; to the left of the leading horse’s head are the faint outlines of kneeling men originally engraved in a higher position; a ghost rider can just be seen one and a half centimetres to the left of the rider following the troops through the city gate (‘M’ Porte della Città), and so on.

  • Arnold van Westerhout (1651-1725) (draughtsman, engraver and printer) [bottom right, below text:] Arnoldo Van Westerhaut fiamengo Delineo’ Intaglio’ e stampo’ in Roma; e dal / medesimo si vendono all salita di san Giuseppe anno 1685. con lic: Sup

  • Watermark: Fleur-de-lys in double circle

    Condition: one fold line; top and right edges creased; top edge with small tears

  • 34.8 x 51.3 cm (image and neatline of view)

    [cropped] x 52.0 cm (platemark of view)

    5.1 x 51.8 cm (platemark of text)

    40.9 x 54.4 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title:

    Pianta et alzata della Citta’ e famoso Ponte d’Essech, in / gran parte incendiato dall Armi Imperiali sotto la condot / ta del Marescial Gnle Conte Leslé. [top centre, in banner]


    [against right edge, in cartouche surmounted by what is intended to be the Leslie coat of arms, griffin supports to each side, and with the Leslie motto ‘Grip Fast’:] All’ et Sig.le Sig.le e Pron / GIACOMO LESLE Conte di Neustat, Presidente del / Consiglio di Geurra nella Stiria, Generale Maresciallo / e Comandante dell Armi Cesaree, nella Schiauonia. [followed by an account of his deeds in burning the bridge at Essick, etc.] et Serue / Arnoldo Van Westerhout

    Additional text:

    [bottom, below view, a key, A-I, K-T, V-Z and Aa-Gg, to various parts of the city, the main bridge, the marshes, the various regiments of the Imperial army, cannon, etc.]


    George III heading: Essek 13 August 1685.

    Other annotations: (Recto) [top left, black pencil, the old heading. (Verso) [top left, black pencil:] IV/[?]; [bottom right, right centre:] 3/121; [bottom right, black pencil:] IV/55.

    George III catalogue entry:

    Essek Pianta et alzata della Citta e Ponte d’Essech in gran parte incendiato dall’ Armi Imperiali sotto la condotta del Conte Leslé li 13 Agosto 1685: da Arnoldo van Westerhout, 1685.

  • Probably from the collection of Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo (1606-89); sold by his grandson to Clement XI, 1703; acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Albani by 1714, from whom purchased by George III in 1762

  • Subject(s)

    Osijek [Essek, Essick], Osječko-Baranska, Croatia (45°33ʹ04ʺN 18°41ʹ38ʺE)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Montagu, 2, London 1803, pp. 126-7

    D. Worthington, Scots in Habsburg Service: 1618-1648, Leiden 2004, p. 282: ‘James Leslie commanded regiments against the Turks on the south-eastern Habsburg-Ottoman frontier on repeated occasions, one notable instance taking place in 1685 when he and 30,000 Imperialists destroyed the bridge over the Danube at Essick.’

    C. Leslie, Historical records of the family of Leslie, from 1067 to 1868-9, 3, London 1869, p. 254

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