Single sheet, laid down on 17th-century paper (map size 10 2/8 x 14 4/8; overall size 19 4/8 x 26 inches). Fine engraved map of northern Europe, from Flanders in the west, to the Polish border with Russia in the east, from Denmark and the Baltic Sea in the north, to the border with Switzerland in the south, engraved by Ferrando Bertelli after Forlani, after Gastaldi, on paper watermarked with a siren within a circle, Woodward 90B.
A beautiful Lafreri school map of northern Europe. Lafreri, arguably Italy's most influential and successful commissioner and publisher of maps, was in fact a Frenchman from Burgundy, born Antoine du Pérac Lefréry of Besançon, who settled in Rome in 1540 and in 1544 established his business as an engraver and print seller in the Via del Perione. From 1553 onwards becoming the leading dealer in engravings in Rome. Lafreri was primarily a dealer and publisher, rather than an artisan in his own right. He carried in stock the prints made not only by his own establishment, but by others, and his own name appears comparatively seldom in the atlases attributed to him.
The two leading cartographic figures in the Lafreri school were undoubtedly Giacomo Gastaldi (ca.1500-1566), arguably the greatest cartographer of the period, and Paolo Forlani (fl. 1560-1571), the leading engraver/mapmaker of the day, with a great artistic sensibility, both of whom worked in Venice, and who contributed to this creation of this superb and detailed map.
Gastaldi was undoubtedly the greatest master of Venetian cartography. Having been established in the city for two decades, by the late 1550s Gastaldi was devising the large-scale monumental masterpieces that would confirm his legacy: his colossal maps of Asia, Europe and Italy. "Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic, then a powerhouse of commerce and trade. He sought the most up to date geographical information available, and became one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century" (Burden). Giacomo Gastaldi was, and styled himself, 'Piemontese', and this epithet appears often after his name. Born at the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century, he does not appear in any records until 1539, when the Venetian Senate granted him a privilege for the printing of a perpetual calendar. His first dated map appeared in 1544, by which time he had become an accomplished engineer and cartographer. Karrow has argued that Gastaldi's early contact with the celebrated geographical editor, Giovanni Battista Ramusio, and his involvement with the latter's work, "Navigationi et Viaggi", prompted him to take to cartography as a full-time occupation. In any case Gastaldi was helped by Ramusio's connections with the Senate, to which he was secretary, and the favourable attitude towards geography and geographers in Venice at the time.
Forlani was perhaps the most prolific producer of maps in the mid-16th century, and largely responsible for diffusing advanced geographical information to other parts of Europe. He was responsible for some of the most beautiful and visually appealing maps of his time, following in the footsteps of his great colleague Giacomo Gastaldi, and was a Venetian engraver and publisher of many significant maps and charts in the period of the Renaissance. It was in Italy, and particularly in Venice, that the map trade, which was to influence profoundly the course of cartographic history, was most highly developed during the first half of the 16th century.
Venice was the most active port in the world, and successful trading expeditions necessitated accurate maps. Venetian ships made regular trading voyages to the Levant and into the Black Sea, to the ports of Spain and Portugal, and along the coasts of Western Europe. In the 15th century the city had already become a clearing-house for geographical information, and the development of cartography in the city was further impelled by the accomplishment of Venetian printers and engravers.
This beautiful map was engraved by Ferrando Bertelli (fl. 1556-1572), one of the most prolific of Venetian map publishers and engravers, who also sold composite atlases and worked at various times with other great names in Venetian cartography - Giovanni Francesco Camocio and Domenico Zenoi. Woodward "Catalogue of Watermarks in Italian Printed Maps, ca 1540-1600", 90B; Woodward "The Maps and Prints of Paolo Forlani,...", 32. For more information about this map, or a warm welcome to see it and others in our gallery at 72nd Street, NYC, please contact Caleb Kiffer.