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From the Archive
The Rugendas Letters:
Johann Moritz Rugendas’
First Voyage to Brazil
1821-1825

The Sections of Cap Trafalgar
The First Prussian Maritime Atlas
 
marine niemeyer - since 1992 -

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PORTOLANI

– 3rd Period in the Development of Cartography –

Here AGNESE’S Manuscript Atlas

of the Petersburg NATIONAL LIBRARY

as Ambassador of Cultural Pretensions 475 Years ago

Agnese, Battista. Portolan Atlas. Manuscript on vellum. 1546. Fol. 40 pp. With i. a. 3 double full-page miniature plates &

13 double full-page very detailed charts .

Facsimile in the ORIGINAL SIZE and the ORIGINAL COLORS on paper adjusted in strength, structure & trimming of edges, but also in the back-to-back laminating typical for Agnese to the vellum of the original. With ills. commentary booklet by Tamara P. Worona in the enlarged revision of Arthur Dürst (48 pp.). 1993. Gilt & blind tooled orig. leather in slip-case.

One of the 700 numbered copies for the German-language market.

The presumably most ornate of the only about 30 signed works

(total œuvre about 70-80 luxury atlases as contract works for high-ranking personalities like Charles V or the Fuggers, of which only “some with 10 or more maps”, Tooley) by the Genoese Agnese (1514-1564) working in Venice as noble producer of portolan charts. In correspondence with its chronological classification present atlas belongs to the

“ post-Californian group ”

comprising the years 1542-1550, in which the then legendary California already appears as peninsula. Yet also otherwise present charts reflect the latest knowledge of geography then. Generally from today’s point of view his atlases represent a collection of valuable historical expert knowledge. So Agnese obviously was

the first who reproduced on charts

the discoveries of Cortes’ envoy F. de Ullos .

Otherwise he distributed from Venice the leading Spanish models. – As to its contents here i. a.

The New World with Pacific – Atlantic with Africa & Parts of Europe – Indian Ocean with the coasts of Africa and Southern Asia – Europe (without Spain & Southern Italy) – Spain & North Africa including Canaries – Mediterranean Sea – Black Sea – a highly differentiated map of Italy which is considered the best of its time – Aegean Sea – The Holy Land – World projected in oval with the route of Magellan’s circumnavigation.

Besides one plate each with the declination of the sun and the armillary sphere, a Zodiak calendar, astronomical notes on two pages as well as the for such a work rather untypical addition of three double full-page mythological paintings by an unknown Venetian master:

Departure of Jason and the Argonauts

Shipwreck at High Sea with Poseidon – Atlas with the Globe .

Above references to the partly red-hot topicality of the contents of these

contract-oriented luxury versions

may illustrate that the charts were basically drafted with practical orientation and therefore meant for use. Only their made-up copies in the service of beauty frequently, yet by no means generally – it shall be reminded of the naturalness of richly decorated sterns – eluded the use aboard, furthering their survival. In other words: where required the geographer’s work was followed by that of the illuminator. Who then had to consider as directed for instance

“ 165 persons and animals , 25 ships , 100 fish ,

140 trees and … 340 flags (of) cities and castles . ”

See on this Michel Mollet du Jourdain of the Académie de Marine in the introduction to Ronciere’s “Portulane – Seekarten des 13. bis 17. Jahrhunderts”, p. 33. And

“ Without being a real chart the portolan provides a ‘catalog of the courses to be taken between two salient points’ (L. Denoix). So it reflects the observed reality and is witness of a period of the occidental culture, which was called to extend its horizon to the farthest regions of earth … It was based on the calculation of the position of places and the distances between them by means of … a system of compass cards close to each other … One of the merits of the Iberian cartographers, and not the least, was to have recognized due to their experience the errors of the equal-graded charts, in which the earth curvature and the convergence of the meridians are not considered … The most important accomplishment of the Iberian … cartographers thus was to have created a picture of the recently discovered regions which was both geographically accurate and scientifically as exact as possible … Battista Agnese propagated Spanish models. ”

This then theme & setting of the splendid Agnese portolan of 1546. As

an ambassador of cultural pretensions 475 years ago .

Offer no. 28,952 | out of print

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