Longhi’s monumental and exceptionally rare double-hemisphere wall map of the world
By LONGHI, Giuseppe; and Frederick de WIT, [after], 1680
Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula.
- Author: LONGHI, Giuseppe; and Frederick de WIT, [after]
- Publication place: Bologna
- Publisher: Olim a Friderico de Wit in lucem primum edita , nunc vero nouis relationibus auctior atque correctior studio , et impensis losephi Longi Bononiae. Carolus Scottus, sculpsit
- Publication date: c1675
- Physical description: Large engraved wall map on 12 sheets, joined and mounted on archival paper, skilful facsimile reinstatement to areas of loss to printed border at sheet edges. A full conservation report is available on request.
- Dimensions: 1258 by 1880mm. (49.5 by 74 inches).
- Inventory reference: 17636
Impressively proportioned and beautifully decorated, Longhi has incorporated into the geography of his map important revisions that surpass the ambitions of its closest relatives. The map includes the addition of a tentative coastline of “Terra Jessi” between North America and Japan, incorporates the coastline of the large Antarctic continent, divides the large island in Hudson’s Bay into three, and adds the “Desertum Amo” (pocked to resemble sand) in northern China.
In spite of these innovations, the imprint to Longhi’s map humbly acknowledges his debt to an earlier twelve-sheet map of the world, published by Frederick de Wit in 1660 – 1661: “Published for the first time by Frederick de Wit, now improved with the latest reports and further revised with accuracy, [and consigned to press] at the expense of Giuseppe Longhi in Bologna. Carlo Scotti engraved [it]”.
In fact, Frederick de Wit’s (1630–1706) first world map, ‘Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula Auctore F. de Wit’ (1660), had been printed on a single sheet. This was followed soon afterwards by a large wall map, printed on twelve sheets, ‘Nova totius terrarum orbis tabula’ (c1661). It was this map that Longhi used as a model for his wall map of the world. In turn, de Wit had based his map on Joan Blaeu’s twenty-one sheet map of the world published in 1648. De Wit had apprenticed with the Blaeus when he moved to Amsterdam in 1648, and may well have worked on their monumental map.
While clearly drawing on some aesthetic elements of de Wit’s map, Longhi made subtle and significant changes to the border that reflect cultural differences between the time and place of the maps’ separate origins. The combined effect is to give Longhi’s map a more scientific aspect: new detailed polar projections have been placed between the celestial hemispheres and the Copernican and Braheian hemispheres, in the lower border; most of the more fanciful elements of de Wit’s map, which included putti and garlands, have been replaced by scenes from the natural landscape of the nationalities that people the corners of the map; de Wit’s map was prominently dedicated, beneath his arms and portrait in a plinth on the map, to Prince Johann Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, in Longhi’s map this has been replaced by an armillary sphere.
Longhi issued his map without a date, however Cesari draws on circumstantial evidence to date the map after 1675, the year that Giovanni de’ Rossi issued a very similar twelve-sheet map in Rome. While the geography expressed is the same, there are significant differences to the border: the legend “Copernici Herronea Hipothesis” has been omitted from the Copernican diagram on Longhi’s map, suggesting that, “by the late seventeenth century, Bologna, although a papal city, enjoyed a greater measure of intellectual and scientific freedom than Rome” (Cesari); the dedicatory portrait of Queen Christina in de’ Rossi’s map has been replaced by an armillary sphere in Longhi’s; and at the bottom of de’ Rossi’s map, the long panel beneath the celestial hemispheres is blank on Longhi’s.
De’ Rossi’s map is known in only one example, sold at Sotheby’s London sale, 15 April 1980, lot 551. He dedicated his map to Queen Christina of Sweden beneath an engraving of the Queen’s impresa, featuring the smiling sun with the motto “Nec falso пес alieno”. This strongly suggests a date shortly afterwards for Longhi’s map. Shirley reports that it “is uncertain whether the De Wit-Longhi issues pre-date the De Wit-De Rossi map or are later. A detailed examination of one of the De Wit-Longhi copies in the University of Kansas kindly undertaken for [Shirly] by Professor T.R. Smith disclosed no trace of any erasures or previous imprints. It could be that two very similar but distinct sets of plates are involved, although this seems unlikely” (Shirley).
Only six other examples of Longhi’s map are known, five of which are institutional: at Kansas University, the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Maritime Museum at Rotterdam, the Istituto Geografico Militare in Florence, and in Bologna, in the archive of the Opera Pia dei Poveri Vergognosi.
Giuseppe Longhi (1620–1691)
Longhi was one of the leading book and print publishers and sellers in Bologna, “well known for his entrepreneurship and the variety of his productions.
These included illustrated works such as academic theses, encomiastic lyrics, comedies, and historical and geographical texts, which often concerned local topics. Towards the end of his career, he became “archiepiscopal printer” under the Archbishops of Bologna Girolamo and later Giacomo Boncompagni. Longhi was active in publishing for some forty years, from 1650 to his death in 1691, during which he changed the location of his workshop at least three times. In the last three decades of the seventeenth century, when he embarked on the wall maps discovered in Opera Pia, he was occupying a group of small rooms in the Vicolo della Scimia. In 1677, he rented a house from the church of San Petronio, and in 1682 he moved his workshop to Palazzo Montecuccoli in Via Orefici, where he also lived” (Cesari).
In addition to his wall map of the world, Longhi published two issues of his version of Blaeu’s wall maps of the four continents. The first set appeared in 1672–1673 (state 1) and then again between 1677 and about 1680 (state 2). In the meantime, he published two issues of Greuter’s very large wall map of Italy between 1675 and 1676. All these maps were engraved by Pietro Todeschi, who worked extensively with Longhi over many years.
Carlo Scotti (fl 1667–1693)
For his wall map of the world, Longhi chose Carlo Scotti as his engraver. He is recorded as working in Venice (1667), Bologna (1685) and Modena (1693). While in Bologna, “Scotti was employed by several publishers, as can be seen from engravings bearing his name in local print collections. An analysis of the graphic style of Longhi’s de Wit map suggests that, for the engraving of the new plates, Scotti was helped by at least two other artists. The high quality of his own work is recognizable in the allegorical scenes in the corners of the map; an engraver of average competence produced the armillary sphere and the figures of Hercules and Minerva; while an artist of modest skill was responsible for the astronomical circles and the background of the allegorical corner scenes” (Cesari).
- Cesari, ‘New Evidence for the Date of Five Rare Dutch-Italian Wall Maps: F. de Wit’s World Mapand W. J. Blaeu’s Four Continents’, Imago Mundi , 2012, Vol. 64, No. 1 (2012), pp. 41–59
- Shirley cf 471<br />