By: Sebastian Munster
Date: 1552 (Published) Basel
Dimensions: 11 x 13.4 inches (28 cm x 34 cm)
This marvelous woodcut map of the Iberian peninsula including Spain, a portion of France, and the northwest corner of Africa, from Munster’s 1552 Latin edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia. The map is in a trapezoidal border, and the verso features descriptive text in Latin with an elaborate border of architectural details, ribbons, cherubs with trumpets and soldiers in armour, one from antiquity and the other in more modern regalia.
The map is presented according to Ptolemy and the classic texts. It is filled with Roman and ancient place names. It details topographical features, the cities of Spain and its mountain ranges, including the Pyrenees. Major river systems are denoted, and each city is distinguished with architectural images in miniature. A large lighthouse is depicted on the northern shore of Mauritaniae. Three insets of text in Latin provide additional information.
This map differs from others of the same title in that a small arrow next to the title points to the right rather than the left as do most of Munster’s maps of Europe. Ptolemy (c. AD 100-170) was a Greek native of the Egyptian city of Alexandria, and a Roman citizen who is credited with the authorship of numerous works of mathematics, engineering, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, and geography. His most famous works provided the basis of Byzantine, Arabic, and European science for the next thousand years. His Geography in particular was of import and was reprinted numerous times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with Christopher Columbus becoming its most famous devotee for using a manuscript of the Geography to plot his course to Asia, the journey which resulted in the discovery of America. The work was also a major inspiration and cartographic resource for Munster, Mercator and Ortelius.
Sebastian Münster (20th January 1488 - 26th May 1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and theologian. A gifted scholar of Hebraic he was appointed to the University of Basel in 1529, and published a number of works in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. His most celebrated works are his Latin edition of Ptolemy's Geographia in 1540, and the Cosmographia in 1544. The Cosmographia was the earliest German description of the world, an ambitious work of 6 volumes published in numerous editions in German, Latin, French, Italian, and Czech.
Condition: This hand colored map is in B condition with toning at the centerfold. Worm damage and minor separation at the centerfold have been repaired with archival material on the verso.
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