MAGNIFICENT ENGRAVED WALL MAP (41 2/8 x 56 6/8 inches; framed size: 50 x 65 4/8 inches). Superb and extremely rare engraved wall-map of Asia, with traces of original hand-colour (extensively restored, with loss to the right hand border, affecting the title, New Guinea and the dedication, the principal areas of the map largely intact, relaid on archival paper).
This map is THE LARGEST MAP OF ASIA PUBLISHED BY A MEMBER OF THE 'LAFRERI SCHOOL', and of the greatest rarity, POSSIBLY ONE OF TWO KNOWN COPIES. AN ITALIAN DERIVATIVE OF THE IMPORTANT AND INFLUENTIAL MAP OF ASIA PUBLISHED BY ORTELIUS, and described by Schilder as "a work of the utmost importance... because of [its] advanced geographical information". ORTELIUS' VERSION IS KNOWN IN ONLY A SINGLE SURVIVING EXAMPLE. Ortelius compiled his wall-map from Giacomo Gastaldi's maps of the three parts of Asia which, Ortelius complained, could not be joined to form a single map. Gastaldi, in turn, drew heavily from the work of the Arab cartographer Ismael Abulfeda, without crediting his source, the subject of another of Ortelius's complaints. Ortelius's version was first published in 1567, and then republished by the Venetian publisher Donato Bertelli. Four examples of this printing are known. The plates subsequently passed to one 'StefanoScolari', probably Stefano Mozzo Scolari, who republished the map, with his imprint inserted, in 1655 and 1662. Burden refers to only two complete sets of the four continents, one in the University of Texas, Austin with the map of Asia apparently dated 1655, and one in a private collection, dated 1662. This is a further example of the 1662 state.
Gastaldi, "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. His "La Discrittione dell prima parte dell'Asia - Il Disegno Della Seconda Parte Dell'Asia - Il Disegno Della Terza Parte Dell'Asia", about which Ortelius complained, are three maps that represent elements of an intended colossal map of Asia, a project so ambitious that it was never realised, though geographically they are based on the small-scale maps Gastaldi previously made of the continent for Giambattista Ramusio's ‘Navigationi et viaggi’.