SYLVANUS Bernardus, Quarta Europae Tabula, 1511

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BERNARDUS SYLVANUS
Quarta Europae Tabula
Ulm: Venice, 1511
Woodcut on black
Paper size: 19 1/2" x 14 1/2"

This is Sylvanus's scarce map of northern Europe, depicting the region encircled by the Rhine in the west, the Danube in the south, and the Vistula in the east. One of the earliest obtainable maps of the region,  this work was originally published in Sylvanus's Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini liber geographiae cum tabulis. This was one of the earliest editions of Ptolemy to include maps with modern geographical updates.

The map is an important early map for its treatment of the Baltic Sea and the western part of Poland. It is also one of the earliest maps to show any part of Scandinavia. In the north, we see the Jutland peninsula and several islands marked simply "Scandia insula," though Sweden is just out of the picture.

Detail in Germany, Poland, Denmark, and the Low Countries is impressive. Many cities are shown according to their Latin names. More easily recognizable are the names of the historical regions, with lands belonging to Saxony, Frisia, the Teutonic Order, and those originally belonging to the Lombards all identifiable.

Sylvanus's cartographic style is perfect for this scale of mapping.  While Shirley laments Sylvanius's extensive depiction of topography and hydrology in his world map, leaving little space for names, that is not an issue. In the present map, the interplay between towns, regions, hills, and forests is well-executed and attractive to the viewer. This is further reinforced by the two-color printing, one of the earliest such examples. This was not the only way in which Sylvanus was at the forefront of his field. While Venice would not become a center of map publishing until much later in the 16th century, Sylvanus started his trade there decades earlier. Shirley calls this "an isolated example of Venetian cartographic enterprise."

This map rarely appears on the market.