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Art in the Age of the Medici

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The story of the Renaissance cannot be told without the Medici. To describe them as Florentine bankers is to belie their centrality in European affairs in the sixteenth century and beyond. They were power-players and patrons, princes and popes. They married into great noble houses and set the standard for aristocratic living well into the nineteenth century. Their very name became a byword for wealth and cultivation.


Inspired by our neighbors at the Metropolitan Museum, who have mounted a show tightly focused on the Medici and portraiture (The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512-1570), we have curated a collection of our material that shows the breadth of the Medici’s influence in Europe in a variety of fields.


At the center of the show is Parmigianino’s imposing allegorical portrait of Charles V receiving the globe from the infant Hercules and the personification of fame (1530). On 22 February of that year Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII, born Giulio de’ Medici. From then the Emperor’s and the fortunes of the Emperor and the Medici rose and fell together. In dialogue with the massive canvas are more intimate portraits from the period, including a beguiling oil on panel of Catherine de’ Medici (Clement’s cousin and Queen of France) by François Clouet.
Emerging from the cast of characters in the Medici drama are three further arenas of the family’s influence: finance, exploration and the arts. At the root of Medicean power is their extraordinary wealth; they were bankers to the French crown as well as great merchants of cloth. With their power and influence grew the territory in which they held sway. It is only natural that they should come to be involved in many of the great cartographic undertakings of the sixteenth century. European knowledge of the Geography of Ptolemy emerged from Florence, and the Medici had a direct interest in the thorough and accurate mapping of the expanding world.


The Medici have gained immortality not through their crowns or croziers, but through their patronage of the arts. The pre-eminence of Italy in the Renaissance is in no small measure tied to Medici support of painters and poets, composers and choreographers. Works on paper are central to understanding the limitlessness of their interest, whether in the natural world — as shown by excerpts from the Museo Cartaceo (Paper Museum) of Cassiano dal Pazzo, born and raised in Florence — or in the stagecraft of the budding genre of opera.


The Medici themselves were collectors without equals, filling their palazzi and palais with maps, tapestries, books, globes, drawings and paintings. Though 1016 Madison might not quite be on par with the Pitti Palace, we hope this eclectic show transports you, even if fleetingly, to the Europe of the Medici.


View the Medici Collection

The Medici & Portraiture

The Medici were at once individuals and interchangeable members of a broad dynasty. For any person of prominence, commissioning a portrait was an act of identity-shaping. Nowhere is this clearer than in Parmigianino’s massive allegorical portrait of Charles V receiving the world. His face — purportedly incomplete after two brief sittings with the Mannerist master — is merely one shard of the glinting image projected by the work. This is equally true in works of smaller scale, as in the case of the portrait of Guillaume de Croy, Lord of Chievres, who served as Charles’s tutor and first chamberlain. The portrait of Catherine de’ Medici is underscored by a letter of hers to her agent Bourdillon, concerning a rather brazen act of international espionage.

Allegorical Portrait of Charles V Receiving the World. PARMIGIANINO (PARMA 1503-1540 CASALMAGGIORE) Ca. 1530
The Medici & Portraiture The Medici were at once individuals and interchangeable members of a broad dynasty. For any person of prominence, commissioning a portrait was an act of identity-shaping. Nowhere is this clearer than in Parmigianino’s massive allegorical portrait of Charles V receiving the world.
Allegorical Portrait of Charles V Receiving the World. PARMIGIANINO (PARMA 1503-1540 CASALMAGGIORE) Ca. 1530
$ 800,000.00
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Portrait of Francoix de Foix, ATTRIBUTED TO CORNEILLE DE LYON (THE HAGUE, C. 1500/10-LYON, 1575)
A SUPERB PORTRAIT OF THE FIRST MISTRESS OF FRANCIS I
Portrait of Francoix de Foix, ATTRIBUTED TO CORNEILLE DE LYON (THE HAGUE, C. 1500/10-LYON, 1575)
$ 250,000.00
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A Portrait of Jacques Dalechamps (1513-1588). ATELIER DE CORNEILLE DE LYON
The confident personality and aristocratic charm of a true Renaissance man, Jacques Dalechamps.
A Portrait of Jacques Dalechamps (1513-1588). ATELIER DE CORNEILLE DE LYON
$ 60,000.00
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Portrait of Guillaume de Croy (William de Croy). CIRCLE OF QUINTEN MASSIJS (LEUVEN, 1456-1530)
Croy was elected a Knight of the Golden Fleece in 1491, his allegiance evident from the inclusion of a golden lamb medallion in this portrait.
Portrait of Guillaume de Croy (William de Croy). CIRCLE OF QUINTEN MASSIJS (LEUVEN, 1456-1530)
$ 90,000.00
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Portrait of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), Queen of France.  THE ENTOURAGE OF JEAN DECOURT (Follower of Clouet, ca. 1530-1585)
Jean Decourt was a French portraitist and follower of Francois Clouet (c. 1510-1572) working for several European nobility.
Portrait of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), Queen of France. THE ENTOURAGE OF JEAN DECOURT (Follower of Clouet, ca. 1530-1585)
$ 125,000.00
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Medici, Catherine de’.  A Signed letter to Imbert de La Platière, Sieur de Bourdillon;
Catherine was deeply embedded in the workings of XVIc Europe, whether by relation or by direct involvement. This letter, apparently unpublished, shows her in the time of her Regency playing a direct role in espionage.
Medici, Catherine de’. A Signed letter to Imbert de La Platière, Sieur de Bourdillon;
$ 2,800.00
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Portrait of Jeanne Clausse, Madame de Lesigni. FRANÇOIS CLOUET (1522–1572)
STUNNING PORTRAIT OF FRENCH NOBILITY DRAWN FOR CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI BY CLOUET
Portrait of Jeanne Clausse, Madame de Lesigni. FRANÇOIS CLOUET (1522–1572)
$ 45,000.00
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Possibly a Portrait of the Prince of Guise. ATTRIBUTED TO COME DUMONSTIER (ACTIVE, 1545 - 1605)
Not only was Come a painter, he was also the valet to Catherine de’ Medici and Margaret of Valois, the Queen of Navarre.
Possibly a Portrait of the Prince of Guise. ATTRIBUTED TO COME DUMONSTIER (ACTIVE, 1545 - 1605)
$ 15,000.00
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Medicea Hospes, sive descriptio publicæ gratulationis ...Van Baerle, Caspar. 1638
Marie de’ Medici's entry into Amsterdam as the Queen Mother on 1 September 1638 was an occasion of regal pomp and import. Baerle’s account details the magnificence and splendor of the celebrations: dramas and waterworks, triumphal arches and a vast parade (the title translates to “The Medicean Guest.
Medicea Hospes, sive descriptio publicæ gratulationis ...Van Baerle, Caspar. 1638
$ 22,500.00
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Portrait of a Woman with a High Ruff and Cap (added). ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS QUESNEL (1543-1619)

Portrait of a Woman with a High Ruff and Cap (added). ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS QUESNEL (1543-1619)
$ 28,000.00
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Portrait of a Young Woman with a Ruff, a Curl on her Cheek and a Pearl Drop Earring. ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS QUESNEL (1543-1619)

Portrait of a Young Woman with a Ruff, a Curl on her Cheek and a Pearl Drop Earring. ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS QUESNEL (1543-1619)
$ 28,000.00
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The Medici & Money

Rich as Croesus, living like Rockefellers, the Medici were undeniably rich — surpassing their reigning counterparts so far that they financed foreign crowns as well as themselves. Conveying money into power was the alchemy of Renaissance rulers, and land was the sorcerer’s stone. Views of the estates of de Croy, Charles V’s tutor and chamberlain, underscore the ways in which he consolidated his power in the Imperial Court. At the other end of the display of financial power is the volume bound for Marie de’ Medici, who also married into the French royal family. The symbols splashed across the olive leather may be fleurs-de-lis, but the gilding is pure Medici coin.

Histoire de S. Loys IX. du nom, roy de France. Joinville, Jean de, ed. Claude Ménard. 1617 FIRST EDITION
BOUND FOR MARIE DE’ MEDICI, QUEEN REGENT OF FRANCE.
Histoire de S. Loys IX. du nom, roy de France. Joinville, Jean de, ed. Claude Ménard. 1617 FIRST EDITION
$ 78,000.00
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Roisnel. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
Roisnel was and is not actually a distinct village but a fiefdom in which the main components were distributed among Ranchicourt, Houdain and Diéval.
Roisnel. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
$ 85,000.00
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Orchimont. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
This town had been repeatedly ruined and burned during the religious and political conflict of the 16th century, most notably in 1554 when it was taken by the Duke of Nevers. There is no sign of unrest or strife in this view, however, with its pastoral glimpse of village life, as two shepherds in the foreground relax beneath the shade of an acacia tree.
Orchimont. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
$ 70,000.00
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Bas-Warneton. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
The main landmark of this village is the church that rises up before the Lys, which was part of the abbey of Saint-Bertin until the 14th century, when it became the parish church.
Bas-Warneton. ADRIEN DE MONTIGNY (FRENCH, C1570-1615)
$ 70,000.00
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The Medici & The Arts

The rise of secular arts in the Renaissance provided new avenues to cement one’s status. As the generational wealth of the Medici grew, so did their ostentatious displays of prosperity in the arts, namely dazzling dramatic and fine arts.


Opera had developed in the closing years of the XVIc as a resurrection of ancient drama, which incorporated text as well as music and dance. As the form migrated from Venice to the rest of Italy, it became the perfect vehicle for ostentatious spectacle, incorporating Humanist tropes of moralizing Classical myth (as in Le nozze degli dei, commissioned for the marriage of Ferdinando II de’ Medici to the Princess of Urbino in 1638) with stagecraft on an unparalleled scale.


Renaissance depictions of plants played a pivotal role in transitioning society from the vice and virtue metaphors of Pagan gods and goddesses in classical literature to new moral attitudes associated with Judeo-Christian principles. Compositions including flowers allowed wealthy patrons to associate with a particular moral attribute while avoiding direct religious iconography. Floral symbolism became a discreet element of Renaissance motifs. The Medici took this to a whole new level.


The sparkle of Medici-era artistry was so captivating that it surpassed any former lineage and set a standard sought by future generations such as Louis XIV, and later Napoleon. Each successive potentate sought to outdo his predecessor.

Le nozze degli dei favola Dell’ Ab’ Gio. Carlo....Coppola, Giovanni Carlo. 1637, First Edition
One of the great 'Fete Books' of the 17th Century.
Le nozze degli dei favola Dell’ Ab’ Gio. Carlo....Coppola, Giovanni Carlo. 1637, First Edition
$ 28,000.00
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Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori Scritte, & di nuouo Ampliate...Vasari, Giorgio. 1568
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was intimately involved in the artistic world of Florence; taught by Andrea del Sarto, friend of Michelangelo, architect of the Uffizi and founder of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (with his patron and the dedicatee of the work, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici).
Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori Scritte, & di nuouo Ampliate...Vasari, Giorgio. 1568
$ 48,000.00
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Plate of figs with apples, cherries and a pomegranate. VINCENZO CAMPI (CREMONA 1530/35-1591)
AN ITALIAN MASTERPIECE FROM THE RENOWNED LODI COLLECTION
Plate of figs with apples, cherries and a pomegranate. VINCENZO CAMPI (CREMONA 1530/35-1591)
$ 250,000.00
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A PLATE OF FIGS. GIOVANNA GARZONI (ITALIAN, 1600-1670),
FRUITPIECE PAINTED FOR FERDINANDO II, GRAND DUKE OF TUSCANY
A PLATE OF FIGS. GIOVANNA GARZONI (ITALIAN, 1600-1670),
$ 1,400,000.00
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Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase. ATTRIBUTED TO GIOVANNA GARZONI (ITALIAN, 1600-1670)
FLORAL SYMBOLISM IN THE RENAISSANCE
Still life with flowers in an elaborate vase. ATTRIBUTED TO GIOVANNA GARZONI (ITALIAN, 1600-1670)
$ 150,000.00
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A Female Capercaille. ITALIAN SCHOOL (17TH CENTURY)
For the extensive section on birds, Cassiano dal Pozzo wisely commissioned artworks from the best artists of his time, including Pietro da Cortona, Francesco Albani, Nicolas Poussin, Guido Reni, G.F. Romanelli, Andrea Sacchi, Paolo Ubaldini, and Vincenzo Leonardi.
A Female Capercaille. ITALIAN SCHOOL (17TH CENTURY)
$ 70,000.00
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Studies of Greater Flamingos. ITALIAN SCHOOL (17TH CENTURY)
The artist took great care to depict the bird feathers as accurately as possible and in the study of the flamingo made careful note of the beak and webbed foot. Both remain indispensable components to the original Museo Cartaceo collection.
Studies of Greater Flamingos. ITALIAN SCHOOL (17TH CENTURY)
$ 125,000.00
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Herba Greca, [Greek Mint Branch. Branche de menthe, Balsamita major Desf.] ITALIAN SCHOOL
Study of a sprig of Greek mint annotated, possibly by Federico Cesi or an associate, describing the medicinal properites of this herb. Namely, stating that the dried flute of this plant aids in relieving cold symptons and digestive ailments.
Herba Greca, [Greek Mint Branch. Branche de menthe, Balsamita major Desf.] ITALIAN SCHOOL
$ 32,000.00
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Gourd-shaped citron, Citrus medica L.: whole fruit & half fruit. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
In the 1640s, Cassiano dal Pozzo commissioned Vincenzo Leonardi to paint these beautiful naturalistic watercolors of the interior and exterior of the Citrus medica, a pear-shaped citrus fruit.
Gourd-shaped citron, Citrus medica L.: whole fruit & half fruit. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
$ 90,000.00
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Citron, Citrus medica L.:whole and half - fruit with an apical pellet. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
The Medici gardens were renowned throughout Europe for their spectacular, indigenous and exotic examples of flora, and they offered generous sponsorship to dal Pozzo’s project, opening their garden to him.
Citron, Citrus medica L.:whole and half - fruit with an apical pellet. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
$ 70,000.00
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Citron, Citrus medica L.: crowned whole and half-fruit. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
Giovanni Battista Ferrari, who later engraved many of Leonardi’s drawings, for his acclaimed series Hesperides, best expressed the great admiration held for the artist’s work: “O Vincenzo, you double nature with your art, since you produce real fruit by what you paint within this volume; indeed you bring about a new and real miracle, since the same things are born on these pages as in the soil…As long as they endure, your fruitful talents will never be contested.”
Citron, Citrus medica L.: crowned whole and half-fruit. VINCENZO LEONARDI (ITALIAN, FL.1621-1646)
$ 60,000.00
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Citrus, Citrus sp.: fruiting branch. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN
Not reproduced in Ferrari’s Hesperides, this drawing shows a fruiting branch of an undetermined citrus species.
Citrus, Citrus sp.: fruiting branch. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN
$ 40,000.00
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Citrus, Citrus sp.: anomalous fruiting branch. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN.
This and the above drawing are unlike all the others in the corpus of citrus illustrations that came from the dal Pozzo collection, in that they show whole branches with fruits and leaves. They may well have been intended to illustrate some kind of herbal.
Citrus, Citrus sp.: anomalous fruiting branch. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN.
$ 60,000.00
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f.7: Lily of the Valley with butterfly and grasshopper. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588).
In early times, Lily of the Valley represented Ostara, the divine virgin goddess of spring. The sweet-smelling white flower symbolizes her purity and humility, the green leaves are associated with hope. In the 15th Century, the church adopted Lily of the Valley as a symbolic plant for the Virgin Mary. Legend says that Maiglöckchen first appeared near the base of the cross where Mary shed tears for her son. These “Woman’s Tears” or “Mary’s Tears” became symbolic of pure Christian love.
f.7: Lily of the Valley with butterfly and grasshopper. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588).
$ 90,000.00
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White Iris and dragonfly. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
Iris is the Greek name for rainbow, because of many varieties of color its flowers can have. In Virgil (Aeneid, 4.694), Iris was sent by Juno to lead Dido’s soul to the underworld, and said to have been sent as a messenger by Zeus to take the soul of Turnus; the flower came to symbolize divine message. Christianity adopted the iris to represent the flew of the Annunciation. Because of its connection with the Annunciation, the iris was also a symbol of message, ardor, trust, and eloquence.
White Iris and dragonfly. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
$ 125,000.00
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Corn Poppy. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death. Sleep, because the opium extracted from them is a sedative, and death because of the rich blood-red color. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used to signify a promise of resurrection after death. In Christianity, poppies were adopted to represent death as a period of tranquil slumber. This association is seen in metaphor as the red petals of the poppy symbolize the blood of a sacrificed Christ. Themes of resurrection and immortality blossom as the poppy (and the spirit) never really die, renew and ascend.
Corn Poppy. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
$ 125,000.00
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Wild Cherry. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
The cherry tree was brought to Italy by Lucullus in 74 B.C. from the town of Cerasus in Pontus, and hence it got its Latin name of cerasus. In Christian symbolism, the cherry symbolized Spring because it is the first tree that bears fruit after winter. Because of this symbolism, the cherry became the fruit of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Christ. Given the sweetness of its fruit, the cherry also stood for the sweetness to be derived from good works.
Wild Cherry. JACQUES LE MOYNE DE MORGUES (FRENCH, CA. 1533-1588)
$ 70,000.00
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The Medici & Maps

As travel around Europe — Charles V was crowned Emperor in three countries, and traveled to the Netherlands, Spain, England and North Africa — became more common, exploration overseas gained new cachet. Amerigo Vespucci was a Florentine who advanced the Medici’s interests in Spain, including financing Columbus’s voyages across the Atlantic. Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann, whose 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography depended on the manuscript of the work that entered Europe through Florence, were the first to name the New World after the Medicean agent: America. Even the great Hans Holbein has the Medici to thank for one of his great achievements: illustrating for the first time the world revolving on its axis. He was responsible for the border of great world map that depicts angels pushing the great axial crank, and the work as a whole emerged from Johannes Huttich’s accompaniment of Charles V and Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) to Spain for his third coronation at Holy Roman Emperor; while there, he gained access to the most up-to-date accounts of Spanish and Portuguese explorers.

Ptolemy, ed. & M. Waldseemüller,... Claudii Ptolemei viri Alexandrini Mathematic... 1513. First edition.
After the publication of Ptolemy's Geography in 1475 mapmakers experimented with all manner of map projections. The cordiform projection highlights the Renaissance's growing fascination with the human body. Leonardo de Vinci's Vitruvian Man was drawn in of 1490 . It also suggestive of an older doctrine of microcosm-macrocosm, a direct relationship between the body and the universe, of the cosmos as an analogy to the human heart and the heart as a smaller copy of the of the cosmos. The human heart was also symbol of charity and love for others and may have used by these mapmakers at a time of religious turmoil as an emblem of religious faith. There are many possible interpretations of the cordiform projection. Look again at the map and what do you see?"
Ptolemy, ed. & M. Waldseemüller,... Claudii Ptolemei viri Alexandrini Mathematic... 1513. First edition.
$ 650,000.00
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Cosmographia Universalis Ab Orontio Olim Descripta.GIOVANNI PAOLO CIMERLINUS. 1566

Cosmographia Universalis Ab Orontio Olim Descripta.GIOVANNI PAOLO CIMERLINUS. 1566
$ 650,000.00
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A gored double-hemisphere map. ANTONIO FLORIANO. 1555
The Venetian Senate granted Antonio Floriano of Udine a privilege (the Renaissance equivalent of a copyright) to publish this map of the world. In his application to the Senate, Floriano wrote that he had used his “diligence and knowledge” to create “a mappemonde which has never been made before, with the aid of which one can easily study and learn cosmography and see the entire picture of the world, since it can be reduced to spheric form.”
A gored double-hemisphere map. ANTONIO FLORIANO. 1555
$ 150,000.00
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Novus orbis regionum ...Huttich, Johannes.1532. First Edition.
Although the map (rightly) has a nearly electromagnetic pull, being the first to indicate Copernicus’ model of the revolving world (predating his 1543 De revolutionibus by 11 years), the book in which it was published is monumental in its own right: the first collection of voyages.
Novus orbis regionum ...Huttich, Johannes.1532. First Edition.
$ 90,000.00
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