ORTELIUS, Abraham (1547-1598). Islandia.

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ORTELIUS, Abraham (1547-1598).
Islandia. Engraved map with original hand color.
Antwerp, 1592.
18 x 22 1/2 inches sheet, 23 x 27 1/2 inches framed
$17,000
Fine example of Ortelius’ classic map of Iceland, one of the most decorative atlas maps of all time. The map illustrated a remarkable array of the legendary and mythical sea monsters and creatures of the 15th and 16th century, along with early depictions of the seahorse, manta ray, walrus and whale.

 

Fine example of Ortelius' classic map of Iceland, one of the most decorative atlas maps of all time and the first relatively accurate map of Iceland from indigenous sources. This example is from the 1609 or 1612 Spanish edition of Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas of the World.

The map depicts Iceland in remarkable detail, including its mountains, fjords, glaciers and a graphic depiction of Mount Hekla erupting in a fiery explosion of flames and volcanic material. Along part of the coastline, Polar Bears can be seen floating on icebergs. The map includes over 200 place names, primarily Danish in origin and many of which are likely misread from the original map, owing to the different writing style employed in Iceland during the period. While the map is far from accurate, it depicts first time a meaningful depiction of all known settlements in Iceland and many other points of interest, including a number of glaciers.

The map illustrates a remarkable array of the legendary and mythical sea monsters and creatures of the 15th and 16th Century, along with early depictions of the sea horse, manta ray, walrus and whale. Some of the more purely fanciful images may derive from tales of St. Brendan, a sixth century Irish missionary who, according to legend, journeyed to Iceland and whose name is associated with a mythical island of the same name. Others are traceable to Olaus Magnus's Carta Marina of 1539, although they were probably derived directly from Munster's Cosmographia of 1545 and most notably Munster's chart of the Sea and Land Creatures.