VERY RARE WALL-MAP OF THE AMERICAS, DERIVED FROM GIACOMO GASTALDl'S LANDMARK MAP OF THE WORLD, PUBLISHED IN 1561.
13 sheets joined (12 map sheets and one title banner along the top edge) (41 x 55 4/8 inches; framed size 51 x 64 4/8 inches). Magnificent and extremely rare engraved wall-map, with traces of original hand-colour (expertly restored, with loss to the right hand part of the map, affecting the title, Europe and the North Atlantic, with loss in the area of Tierra del Fuego, the geographical detail for North America largely intact, relaid on modem linen on stretchers).
The early history of the plates is uncertain, as the map seems only to have existed in an early and incomplete proof form, of which but two examples are known (Museo Civico Correr, Venice, and the James Ford Bell Library, from the Harmsworth Collection). In the compilation of these earlier examples, the engraver seems to have omitted central North America, which would have been on the central sheet, and made the western sheet marry with the eastern sheet, thus conflating the continent west to east, which would certainly explain the limited circulation in this form. Burden believes that the map was first prepared by Giovanni Francesco Camocio, circa 1568, but the watermark on the Harmsworth copy is datable to the late 1580s, after Camocio's death, and therefore the printing is probably attributable to Donato Bertelli.
It was not until the seventeenth century that the map seems to have been completed, as here, with the addition of additional sheets to complete the geographic coverage, particularly a central sheet for North America, and with titles inserted in the previously blank cartouche in the Pacific and along the upper border. In this form, attributed to the Venetian publisher Stefano Mozzo Scolari, the map is known in two states, each recorded in a single example. This example conforms with Burden's state 3, with the insertion of 'Stretto d'Anian' (modern Alaska), 'Nova Albion' (California) and 'Novo Amsterdam' for New York.
The empty space in the Pacific Ocean contains a letterpress broadside description of the four continents, entitled “Dichiaratione delle qvattro parti del mondo di Giacomo Gastaldo raccolta da piv famosi cosmografi et historici”. “The corrections and additions were certainly not made before the middle of the eighties of the 16th century, since we read the names La Florida and Virginia on the large new sheet.
“The numerous legends, which are printed all over the map and give references to history of the discovery and the conditions of the various regions, have been discussed at length by Caraci, who found that they were derived from Ramusio. On the new sheet which presents the American South and Middlewest, are the following inscriptions (besides many interesting place names as S. Agustino, Chalaqua, Tastalifa, Xualatina, etc.): On
the spot corresponding to New Mexico “La piu vicina provincia chiamata sette città secondo Marco Nizza, a buon paese, ma Francesco Vaschir riferisce che siano Luoghi di poco valore, et sono sotto la giurisditione della nova Granada”. More to the right a strange quadruped is described as “Questa fiera bestia si chiama Suca rache la quale vedendosi seguita da cacciatore si piglia adosso i figli e fugge per salvarli”” (Harry RAnson Center online).
Burden refers to only two complete sets of the four continents, one in the University of Texas, and one in a private collection, dated 1662. THIS MAP, THE LARGEST MAP OF THE AMERICAS PUBLISHED BY A MEMBER OF THE 'LAFRERl' SCHOOL', IS THEREFORE OF THE GREATEST RARITY.
"Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic, then a powerhouse of commerce and trade. [Gastaldi] 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.