ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp: Officina Plantiniana, 1612.
Folio (16 6/8 x 11 2/8 inches). Latin text. Fine engraved allegorical title-page with the magnificent arms of Philip III of Spain on verso by P.A. Schottus (fore and lower margin strengthened on verso with Japanese tissue, and in one or two places renewed), engraved epitaph to Ortelius and portrait of him by Phillip Galle, 128 fine engraved double-page maps, most by Frans Hogenberg, all coloured in a contemporary hand (one or two expert invisible repairs to early fore-margins, a few maps with early repairs to marginal tears, corner of map 69 repaired, a few maps trimmed closely, light worming to gutter margin to early text leaves, but ATTRACTIVE). Handsome modern panelled calf antique.
Provenance: anonymous armorial bookplate ("Sola virtus vera nobilitas").
The last of the Latin editions of the "Theatrum orbis terratum" with elaborate engraved preliminaries and an introduction to the cosmography by Michel Coignet, but without the "Parergon" and "Nomenclator Ptolemaicus" bound with some copies.
This is a very handsome copy of this comprehensive atlas, with beautiful hand-colouring. The world map "Typus orbis terrarum" is Shirley 122 plate 3, state 1, with the distinctive bulge in the Chilean coastline now removed, with New Guinea as a separate island, with the imaginary great south land "Terra Australis Nondum Cognita" covering the southernmost latitudes, and with the Terra del Fuego and Beach peninsulas marked.
"Americae sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio" shows North and South America with the bulge removed from the coastline of Chili, but New Guinea and Terra del Fuego are still shown as peninsulas of the great southern land.
"Maris Pacifici", "Ocean of Tranquility", the first printed map (1590) to be devoted to the Pacific Ocean, includes an early depiction of the west coast of North America, Japan and New Guinea, Nova Hispania (Mexico) and the California peninsula are shown quite accurately for the time.
Other maps related to America include "Hispaniae Novae sive Magnae... 1579"; "Culiacanae..." and the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba; and Peru, Florida. Maps relating to Australia are "Asia Nova Descriptio" which shows New Guinea as a separate island and the north coast of Australia as "Terrae Incognitae Australis"; and "Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium typus".
"All the elements of the modern atlas were brought to publication in Abraham Ortelius' "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum". This substantial undertaking assembled... the best available maps of the world by the most renowned and up-to-date geographers... each of Ortelius' maps was engraved specifically for his atlas according to uniform formats" (Shirley).
Effusively dedicated by Ortelius to Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), king of Spain and of Portugal (as Philip II) whose reign (1598-1621) was characterized by a successful and largely peaceful foreign policy in western Europe and internally by the expulsion of the Moriscos (Christians of Moorish ancestry). The son of Philip II of Spain by his fourth consort, and Habsburg cousin, Anna of Austria. Philip III was pious, benevolent, and "highly virtuous in private conduct. After he became king (Sept. 13, 1598), he showed himself to be indolent and indifferent to his responsibilities. His father revealed his disappointment when he remarked that his son was unfit to govern the kingdoms God had given him and would instead be governed by them. In April 1599 the new king married his Habsburg cousin the Austrian archduchess Margaret.
"From the beginning, Philip placed affairs entirely in the hands of a favourite, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, marqués de Denia, later the duke of Lerma-the first in a line of royal favourites who governed 17th-century Spain. Philip's government continued a policy of hostility to the Turks, and in Italy it faced the rivalry of the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Savoy. In the rest of western Europe, however, a Spanish policy of conciliation ruled. Peace in the West enabled the government to deal with the internal problem of the Moriscos and on April 9, 1609, the decision was made for their expulsion, which caused serious economic and demographic difficulties in certain areas. The peace was brought to an end by the outbreak (1618) of the Thirty Years' War, in which Philip gave his unconditional support to the Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II and the Catholic German princes. Remote from his subjects, Philip spent huge sums on court entertainments and neglected Spain's growing economic problems, which were to reach crisis proportions in the following reign. Having resided in Valladolid in the first years of his reign, he eventually fixed his court in Madrid. After a visit to Portugal (1619), he suffered the first attack of an illness that two years later brought about his death" (Encyclopedia Britannica online).
Ortelius first published his "Theatrum…", arguably the first atlas in the modern sense of the word, in 1570, with 70 seventy copper engravings on fifty-three double-folio pages. A businessman native to Antwerp, Ortelius compiled the best existing maps, re-engraved them on a standardized format, and included them with the text in one volume. But, by 1570, he had been dealing in maps and charts for more than twenty years. The death of Ortelius' father in 1535, who had been a wealthy merchant, seems to have placed his family in financial difficulties. When Ortelius was as young as 19 he is recorded as having joined the Guild of St. Luke as 'afsetter' "or colourist of maps and prints. He seems to have reached a very advanced level of skill in this craft, as some customers continued to insist on buying atlases coloured by him personally at a time when he had already developed into a publisher and cartographer/merchant… Ortelius [also] became a trader in books, prints and maps. Much of this trading had to do with the house of Plantin [subsequently publisher of the 'Theatrum']…Soon he was attending the book fair in Frankfurt to buy and sell books, maps and prints for others as well as for himself. He first met Gerard Mercator there in 1554, which marked the state of a life-long professional relationship and personal friendship… " (van den Broecke page 14).
Through his work Ortelius became quite the cosmopolitan, he travelled extensively to France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, England and Ireland, and as a result had command of several languages. With the publication of the "Theatrum" came tremendous success and wealth. Giving full credit to the original cartographers, the "Theatrum" was so successful that it was printed three times in 1570 alone. In 1574 Ortelius retained the position of Royal Cosmographer to Phillip II and was given a fine gold necklace, worth 1000 ducats. Between 1570 and 1612 the atlas was published in 42 editions and the 7 languages: Latin, German, Flemish, French, Spanish, English and Italian. Koeman Ort 41. Catalogued by Kate Hunter