FORLANI, Paolo (Forlani (fl. 1560-1571). Il Disegno del discoperto della nova Franza. Venice: Bolognino Zaltieri,1566.

$ 250,000.00

Single sheet, float-mounted and framed (10 4/8  x 15 6/8 inches, full margins, showing the plate mark). EXCEPTIONALLY FINE engraved map of North America, the title within an elegant mannerist strapwork cartouche upper left. 


First published the previous year without Zaltieri's imprint. The modest dimensions of Paolo Forlani's rare and finely engraved map of North America belie its signal importance in the history of New World cartography. It is the earliest printed map devoted solely to North America, the first to portray that landmass as a separate continent and the first to show the so-called Strait of Anian separating America from Asia at the approximate location of the Bering Strait (in a purely coincidental instance of early geographical myth dovetailing with the discoveries of later exploration).

North America "began to take shape geographically in the printing shops of Venice during the middle decades of the sixteenth century. The first depictions of the American continent appeared on early world maps as the eastern component of the Asian land mass" (Cohen).

Entitled "Il Disegno Del Discoperto Della Nova Franza, il quale s'e hauuto ultimamente dalla nouissima nauigatione de' Franzesi in quel luogo" (or, 'The Drawing of the Discovery of New France, recently derived from the Newest Voyage of the French in that Region") Forlani based his rendering largely on the western part of a world map published by his colleague, the great Venetian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi, several years before. Gastaldi had been the first to formulate the concept of the Strait of Anian, a name that probably originated with Ania, a Chinese province mentioned in a 1559 edition of Marco Polo's travels. Forlani's early graphic depiction of Gastaldi's mistaken theory, which persisted well into the eighteenth century, makes this map a cornerstone work in the mapping of America.

In the early 1560s, Forlani also published a map of South America and the West Indies, 'La descrittione de tutto il Peru', and with this 1565 map of North America he completed his coverage of the New World. The map stretches from Greenland down the coast of Canada and the Atlantic Seaboard to the West Indies, including a corner of South America, and from the coast of China in the west to the Azores and Cape Verde in the east. It is the first map to portray North America as a continent separate from Asia, and the first to show the Strait of Anian (the Bering Strait), depicted as flowing between the Mare Setentrionale in Cognito (north of the North American continent) and the Golfo Chinan (west of the continent). The concept of a strait separating America from Asia was first proposed only four years earlier by Giacomo Gastaldi in his pamphlet "La Universale Descrittione del Mondo" (Venice, 1562).

The map also includes French names, such as Lacardia and Canada, as well as Spanish names, including Florida, and the first ever mention of the Sierra Nevada (snowy mountains). Quivira is shown as an Indian Tribe in south-central Kansas, reached by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541. Quivira was the name of the mythical kingdom of gold sought by Coronado, but became the Spanish word for Wichita, the Indian tribe that Coronado found instead of gold. Because Coronado's maps were apparently not available to European cartographers, Quivira is depected too far westward on the Tigna (Colorado River), since it was incorrectly believed that Coronado's expedition had at one point reached the Pacific Ocean.

Until fairly recently, the map was attributed to Venetian publisher Bolognino Zaltieri, whose name and imprint appear on the second state, published in 1566, as here. As David Woodward has demonstrated, however, authorship should be ascribed to Forlani, who sold some copperplates - including, presumably, the one used to print this map - to Zaltieri sometime around late 1565 or early 1566. Zaltieri then altered the plate, adding his own name, and proceeded to issue his own examples of the map, in a practice of appropriation (or licit plagiarism) that was quite common in the fluid world of Venetian map publishing. This is an extremely rare example of this fascinating map, a landmark in the history of the mapping of America, here in outstanding condition.

Following in the footsteps of his great colleague Giacomo Gastaldi, Paolo Forlani 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. 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.

Zaltieri was one of “three men who dominated the map-publishing trade in Venice. He had a prolific output, much of which emanated, either in compilation, or in engraving, with Forlani, with the focus on regions outside Italy. His most famous publication is a map of North America, published in 1566, which was the first separate printed map of the region. Other maps published by him are a detailed plan of Venice, with an extensive key below, a map of Ireland, of the Holy Land, and two plans of Tunis. He also issued a series of maps of the individual provinces of the Low Countries, copied from Tramezini” (Ashley Bayntun-Williams “The 'Lafreri School’ of Italian Mapmakers circa 1544 – 1602” online). 
Cohen, "Mapping of the West", pages 29-30. R.V. Tooley, "Maps in Italian Atlases of the Sixteenth Century," Imago Mundi 3 (1939), n. 80; Lloyd Arnold Brown, The World Encompassed, exh. cat. (Baltimore, 1952), n. 207; David Woodward, "The Forlani Map of North America," Imago Mundi 46 (1994): 29-40; Philip D. Burden, The Mapping of North America: A List of Printed Maps 1511-1670 (Rickmansworth, 1996), 41. AN EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF A LANDMARK MAP IN THE HISTORY OF THE MAPPING OF AMERICA.