Cosmographia Universalis Ab Orontio Olim Descripta.GIOVANNI PAOLO CIMERLINUS. 1566

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Cosmographia Universalis Ab Orontio Olim Descripta
[Map of the Whole World Once Engraved by Oronce Finé]
Venice, 1566
Paper size: 24 x 21 1/4 in
Framed: 33 x 29 3/4 in
Copperplate engraving; double-page map on two sheets joined


Tooley, Maps in Italian Atlases, 19; Shirley, World, 116 (pl.100: BL example); Meurer, Strabo Illustratus Atlas, map 1; Karrow, Mapmakers of the Sixteenth Century, 27/2.3; Nordenskiold, Facsimile Atlas, p.89 (fig.53); The World Explored, 153 (pl.34); cf. Shirley: Mapping of the World, 69 (ill: color frontispiece) for the Finé prototype.

Dedication to Henry Matravers on pedestal, bottom left:
To the most excellent Henry, Master of Matravers, Count of Arundel etc. and to his most respectable family.
O illustrious Henry, to me, the best educated men seem to be these: whenever someone approaches them that is equal or similar to them in virtue and loved by the gods, they are not jealous but bow down to the will of the gods for having made them so fortunate. Whenever someone approaches them that, on the other hand, has lost all his possessions because of a whim of the gods, they are eager and ready to be of any use to him.
These are the best men.
From Egypt the gods were accustomed to have Mercury, their messenger god, to write down and record their feats. And indeed that precious skill of writing and recording was passed on down from the gods to Heroes and kings who continued to perform it in the very same manner, in order to teach and help mankind. This has been proved by time and experience, but now, with this first speech, I have been delayed in my task. I would like to continue and dedicate this following inscription to you: You were sprung from royal blood, and shine alone among great men. You encourage the princes (or leaders) of Anglia not only to admire you but most of all to be well-disposed towards you; for the best men are respectful of all virtues and praiseworthy opinions.
Receive in that noble royal heart of yours this small gift of a map and accept it for what it is. May it be useful to you in your great power and may it encourage you to show me kindness and benevolence.
And so I really hope that this great map will outlive me, and that meanwhile you will allow me to number among your dependents. May it do me justice and bring me honour and please you somewhat. Fare well.
Devotedly yours,
I, Paulus Cimerlinus Veronem


Cosmographia Universalis Ab Orontio Olim Descripta
Cimerlinus is a little known printseller and publisher, apparently from Verona, but presumably working in Venice, a lesser figure in the so-called Lafreri -school of Italian cartographers.
In the 16th century, Italy was at the forefront of cartographic development and discovery. This was due to a number of different factors: Italy’s geographical position in the center of the Mediterranean, the skill and daring of Italian explorers, and the tradition of craftsmanship of the peninsula’s artisans. Many of the most important early explorers were Italian, from Marco Polo to Columbus, Vespucci to Verrazano. Italy was also the first to revive an interest in classical geography during the Renaissance, and the first editions of Ptolemy were printed in Rome, Bologna, and Florence. Venice, in particular, was a center of cartographic activity. 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. Among the accomplished publishers of maps who were active in Renaissance Venice, Antonio Lafreri was the foremost in innovation and quality.
Lafreri was one of the preeminent publishers of maps in 16th and early 17th-century Italy, during the period when the cities of Rome and Venice came to dominate map-publishing in Europe. At this point the art was still in its infancy - the earliest printed map had been published in 1472, and the first atlas in 1477, but these had been crude attempts based on the geographical work of the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy. In the sixteenth century, individual mapmakers throughout Europe undertook the detailed and accurate mapping of their cities, provinces, states and countries. Much of this work was circulated in the form of wall-maps, multiple sheets assembled together to hang on the walls of palaces, administrative offices and the like. In such circumstances they were very susceptible to damage; many are now very rare or have been lost altogether. One of the important roles of the Italian publishers was in using these maps as a basis for their own smaller versions, thus preserving the geographical information (and sometimes disseminating it more widely than the original publisher).
Lafreri gathered and sold the best existing maps and, possibly at the suggestion of one of his clients, began to bind collections of them in one volume for convenience; for this reason, some have credited him with inventing the atlas. Many extremely rare maps have survived only because they were bound by Lafreri, and thereby protected from damaging light, moisture, and general neglect.
Cimerlinus’ model, as credited in the title, was a very rare world map by the French cartographer Oronce Finé (or Finaeus) who originally produced the map in 1519. An example of the proof copy is at the Harvard Map Collection digital maps, Cartographic treasures.
Cimerlinus’ world map is drawn here on a cordiform, or heart-shaped projection, which allows the world to be illustrated in one hemisphere. The map is set in an elaborate classically - inspired frame, with cherubs and angels, bearing the dedication to Henry Maltravers, count of Arundel, presumably Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel (1512-1580) or, less plausibly, his son Henry FitzAlan, Lord Maltravers (1538-1556), this latter connection seemingly giving rise to the oft- given date of 1556 for the proof state.


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