By: Girolamo Ruscelli
Date: 1574 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 7.25 x 10.25 inches (18.42 x 26.04 cm) plate size
This is a nice example of Ruscelli’s second state issue of the Island of Ceylon, Sri Lanka, or Topbrana as it was then known. The map is from his work La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino. Ruscelli based much of his work on that of Claudius Ptolemy, and on the atlas maps of Giacomo Gastaldi. This appealing map is based on Gastaldi’s of 1548 and focuses on the island of Ceylon, which had long been debated regarding its size and precise location, and on the islands in close proximity to it. Even Marco Polo commented on it, though his observations of it describe a land mass nearly as large as the Indian subcontinent.
There are a number of cities depicted pictorially in miniature vignettes which feature towers and battlements and are found both inland and along the coast of the island. This state of the map is embellished by an elephant with lovely long tusks under a tree and standing in tall grass, its natural environment as envisioned by cartographers of that time, a charming addition to an interesting map. Italian text on the verso describes the island, its foliage, the importance of the elephant and its ivory, etc.
Girolamo Ruscelli (1500-1566) was an Italian cartographer, polymath, humanist and editor, active in Venice during the early 16th century. Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy's Geographia, published posthumously in 1574.
Claudius Ptolemy (85-165 CE), a Roman citizen of Greek descent from Alexandria, was the most influential of Greek astronomers and geographers of his time. He propounded the geocentric theory of the solar system which was to prevail for the next 1400 years.
Giacomo Gastaldi (c.1500-1566) was an Italian astronomer, cartographer and engineer from Villafranca in Piedmont. Many of Ruscelli’s maps are essentially enlarged versions of some of Gastaldi’s maps.
Condition: This map is in A condition, a crisp and clean impression.
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