By: Sebastian Munster
Date: 1552 (Published) Basel
Dimensions: 10.75 x 13.25 inches (28 cm x 34 cm)
This marvelous woodcut map of Italy, the Adriatic Sea and the Balkans first appeared in Munster’s Geograhia Universalis which was first published in 1540. The map is presented in a trapezoidal border. The woodcut border surrounding the text on the verso is thought to be the work of Hans Holbein. Munster’s maps represent new and important works based on Ptolemy, this one with Latin text on the verso framed by a lovely decorative cartouche featuring scrolling and miniature depictions of people, mythical beast, gods from antiquity and a German heraldic shield. 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.
With remarkable accuracy Munster traced the mountains of the north and eastern sides of the Adriatic, the Dinaric Alps, which dominate the western region of the Balkans, but he did not depict the Appenines in Italy itself. Major cities are denoted throughout the map, with miniature architectural renderings to represent them. River systems and islands are depicted and named. A marvelous dolphin carries a cupid on its back. The map extends as far north as Germany and as far south as the toe of Italy and a portion of Sicily.
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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