ABRAHAM ORTELIUS (1527-1598). Typus Orbis Terrarum. [Antwerp: ca 1579].
ABRAHAM ORTELIUS (1527-1598)
Typus Orbis Terrarum. [Antwerp: ca 1579].
Single sheet (19 4/8 x 13 4/8 inches, full margins showing the plate mark). Fine engraved map of of the world on an oval projection, the title within a fine mannerist strapwork banner cartouche along the top edge and a quote from Cicero in another along the bottom edge, showing the continents and a large southern land mass "Terra Australis Nondum Cognita" detached from New Guinea, but encompassing Terra del Fuego, surrounded by a border of clouds, with fine hand colouring in full.
The second state of the first plate, with Chile a distinctive bulge in South America and the crack in the copper plate showing in the lower left-hand corner of the image closed with three distinct bolts, and the clouds in that corner reworked.
Each succeeding decade following the first New World discoveries created its own revolution of knowledge, but a watershed in the growth and illustration of geographical information was the atlas published in 1570 by Abraham Ortelius, a businessman native to Antwerp. The 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' was the first atlas in the modern sense of the word, as Ortelius compiled the best existing maps, re-engraved them on a standardized format, and included them with text in one volume. This was a landmark innovation, and the Theatrum was arguably the first printed production to have a major impact on the world perspective of contemporary Europeans. Despite their relationship as competitors, Ortelius and his fellow cartographer Gerard Mercator were close friends, and together they represented the major proponents of the most celebrated period in the history of mapmaking.
The centerpiece of Ortelius’s unprecedented atlas was this map, the 'Typus Orbis Terrarum'. Publication of this famous world map marked the beginning of the golden age of Dutch cartography. It is remarkable how accurately the four known river systems of America are located. The Colorado and St. Laurence regions had recently been explored by Coronado and Cartier respectively; and the Amazon and La Plata basins were just beginning to be penetrated actively. Much of the map's information rested upon Mercator's great world map of 1569, especially the distorted shape of South America. This landmark map is rightly celebrated for unequalled beauty as much as for outstanding discovery, and is an example of the finest work of Ortelius. Shirley 122, Plate 1; van den Broecke 1:4