World map

By PORCACCHI, Thomaso, 1590 

Carta da Navigare

World
  • Author: PORCACCHI, Thomaso
  • Publication place: In Venetia
  • Publisher: Appresso gli heredi di Simon Galignani
  • Publication date: 1590
  • Physical description: Woodcut map
  • Dimensions: 110 by 150 mm (4.25 x 6 inches)
  • Inventory reference: 3357

Notes

This fine map of the world, criss-crossed with rhumb lines, is one of two in the isolario engraved by Girolamo Porro, a well-known Paduan illustrator. Porro later engraved maps for the first small-format Mercator atlas and for a Ptolemy (both appearing in 1596). Unlike the other world map in the isolario, this map cuts off eastern Asia and western America. Given that the other world map in the isolario shows the Strait of Anian, this probably does not suggest a connection between the two. The map retains the imaginary southern continent Terra Australis’, the existence of which was postulated on the basis that there must be a land mass in the southern hemisphere sufficiently large to balance out those in the north. Terra del Fuego is shown as part of this southern continent rather than an independent archipelago.

A map from L’isole piu famose’ by Tommaso Porcacchi, a beautiful and important isolario first published in 1572. The isolario, or island book, was a genre developed in the Mediterranean over the sixteenth century as a unique blend of literature, geography and art. It combined up-to-date cartography with contemporary accounts of and information about the places it portrayed. Porcacchi’s work represents the culmination of a movement in the genre towards cartographical accuracy; L’isole’ was aimed specifically at readers who dello studio della geografia si dilettano’ (delight in geographical studies). L’isole’ was the first isolario with maps engraved on copper.

This is this third edition of L’isole piu famose’, enlarged from the original and, according to Phillips, containing 17 maps which do not appear in the 1572 original including two of the New World: Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The addition of the New World islands from the second edition onwards reflects contemporary interest in the geography of the Americas. The detailed, beautifully engraved maps show the islands of Europe and America, with context provided by the two splendid world maps (one of which is shown here) in the closing sections entitled Descrizione del Mappamondo’ and Discorso intorno alla carta da navigate,’ pages 193 to 20. 

Bibliography

  1. Philips 3328
    • Phillips, P. (1909–1992). A list of goegrpahical atlases in the Library of Congress. Washington: Govt. Print. Off.
  2. Sabin 64105
    • Sabin, J. (1962). A Dictionary of books relating to America. Amsterdam: Israel.
  3. Shirley 127–28
    • Shirley, Rodney. (1987). The mapping of the world. London: Holland Press.