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Ortelius's Renaissance Masterwork

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"Typus Orbis Terrarum", Ortelius’s Renaissance Masterwork World Map from the rare 1608/1612 Italian Edition of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Plate 3, state 1. 14 x 19. Original copperplate engraving. Full old hand color.


One of the most famous of world maps. Initially published in 1570, the "Theatrum" was the first that could truly be called an "atlas" in the modern sense of a compilation of maps engraved to a uniform format according to the most up-to-date information available. The publication also marked the inauguration of the era of Dutch supremacy in cartography. For these and other reasons, Ortelius is called the "father of modern cartography."

This map is based upon Gerard Mercator's large world map of 1569. Ortelius' atlas project had the blessing and aid of Mercator, who supplied Ortelius with coordinates of places in America. In the north, islands are shown surrounding the North Pole, and separated from America and Asia by a sea passage, the latter a popular belief in the sixteenth century. In the south, a large "Terra Australis Nondum Cognita" is drawn, separated from South America by the "Estrecho di Magallanes."