RUYSCH, Johannes (ca 1460-1533). Universalior Cogniti Orbis Tabula Ex Recentibus Confecta Observationibus. [Rome: Ernardinus Venetis de Vitalibus for Evangelista Tosinus, 1508]

$ 350,000.00

2 sheets, joined, float-mounted and framed (17 x 23 inches). Fine engraved map of the world on a coniform or fan-shaped projection, showing Newfoundland as "Terra Nova" and South America as "Mundus Novvus" (some expert and discreet repairs to verso).

The first world map to show the New World was the 1506 map published by Francesco Rosselli in Florence, while another was included in Martin Waldseemüller's map of the same year. Both of these works are known in a single existing example, meaning that RUYSCH'S RARE MAP IS THE EARLIEST CARTOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION OF THE NEWLY DISCOVERED LANDS THAT REMAINS AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS.

Drawn according to Ptolemy's first (coniform, or fan-shaped) projection, Ruysch's map was the first indication of America in any edition of Ptolemy's "Geography", and incorporated geographical discoveries from Portuguese, Spanish and English explorations in America. The nomenclature was particularly influential. South America is named "Mundus Novus" or "New World" from Vespucci's published accounts asserting that this was a "fourth" or "new" corner of the globe, distinct from Europe, Asia and Africa.

Ruysch's map provides a revealing window onto both the cartographical misconceptions and advances of the Renaissance. Mapmakers were still struggling to understand what relationship the newly discovered lands bore to the coast of Asia-- whether they were the easternmost extremities of that continent (as Columbus had assumed) or distinct from it. Ruysch seems to have equivocated on that point. Although he advocated the theory that the territorial discoveries were indeed a New World simply by labeling South America as "Mundus Novus," he still showed Greenland and Newfoundland ("Terre Nova") attached to Asia. In other ways, however, Ruysch broke away from received wisdom in his geographical configurations. This work is, for example, the first printed map to show India with its correct triangular form.

Ruysch's map was instrumental in disseminating knowledge of recent discoveries in America, Africa and Asia, but Ruysch himself is an enigmatic figure. Probably born in Utrecht, he is thought to have lived in a monastery in Cologne before settling in Rome, where he produced this map. According to the editor of the 1507-1508 edition of Ptolemy's 'Geography', Ruysch had personally taken part in a voyage from England to North America, who "it is said in the commentary that accompanies the map in the following edition of 1508, 'has navigated from the southern part of England to 53 north latitude, and that he has sailed on the latter parallel as far as the eastern coasts [of America]'. As such, this map is the first printed depiction of America by a mapmaker who had himself visited the New World. 

Lloyd Arnold Brown, The World Encompassed, exh. cat. (Baltimore, 1952), n. 54; Rodney W. Shirley, The Mapping of the World (London, 1983), n. 25; Philip D. Burden, The Mapping of North America: A List of Printed Maps 1511-1670 (Rickmansworth, 1996), xxiii.