Exhibitions

One aspect of the cultural ferment of the Renaissance was the expansion of Western Europe's world view to encompass Africa, Asia, and ultimately the New World. With the breaking of the medieval cartographic framework, geographers returned to a Classical model for constructing maps using latitude and longitude, as described in detail by Claudius Ptolemy in his Geographia (second century AD). The Geographia was translated from Greek into Latin in Rome in 1406 and thereafter was soon disseminated throughout western Europe. Renaissance geographers quickly applied the principles of the Geographia in their mapping of the contemporary world, adding new maps--tabulae modernae--to the Ptolemaic maps of the Classical world.

SECVNDA EVROPE TABVLA 1482/1486

The Benedictine monk Donnus Nicholas Germanus (fl. 1460-75) was particularly prolific in editing and expanding the Geographia. His manuscripts later served as sources for the early printed editions of the Geographia. Item 1 is the printed version of one of Nicholas's Ptolemaic maps of Spain; it was originally published in Ulm in 1482, in Lienhart Holl's Geographia, the first edition of the book to be produced north of the Alps.

CLAUDIUS PTOLEMY
Greek, ca. 90-168
DONNUS NICOLAUS GERMANUS
German, fl. 1460-1475
SECVNDA EVROPE TABVLA 1482/1486
From: CLAVDIVS PTOLEMAEVS COSMOGRAPHIA . . .
Ulm, JOHANN REGER, 1486
Woodcut, hand colored, 39.0 x 54.1 cm.

2.0001
TABVLA MODERNA HISPANIE

Once published, maps obtain a certain authority and are often copied and recopied. Thus, Nicholas Germanus's tabulae modernae were printed in the 1482 and 1486 Ulm editions of the Geographia. These maps were in turn copied for the 1507 republication of the 1478 Rome edition. (The first Rome edition had only classical Ptolemaic maps.) Item 2 is the tabula moderna of Spain from the second Rome edition, of 1507.

DONNUS NICOLAUS GERMANUS
German, fl. 1460-1475
TABVLA MODERNA HISPANIE
From: CLAVDII PTHOLEMEI ALEXANDRINI PHILOSOPHI COSMOGRAPHIA
Rome, BERNARDUS VENETUS de VITALIBUS, 1507
Engraving, 39.3 x 50.4 cm.

3.0001
TABVLA MODERNA ET NOVA HISPANIE

Working in the monastery of St Dié, in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France, Martin Waldseemüller and Mathias Ringman used the maps from the Ulm and Rome editions of the Geographia as guides for their own maps. Item 3 is one such map, printed in Strassburg in 1513. Although items 2 and 3 "look" quite different, because they were produced by different printing methods, they portray very similar networks of mountain ranges.

MARTIN WALDSEEMÜLLER
German, 1470-1521
TABVLA MODERNA ET NOVA HISPANIE
From: Claudii Ptolemei viri Alexandrini . . . Geographiae opus nouissima . . .
Strassburg, JOHANN SCHOTT, 1513
Woodcut, 38.2 x 53.4 cm.

5.0001
SECVNDA EVROPAE TABVLA

In his edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, Bernardus Sylvanus created a unique hybrid of Classical and modern information. He fitted Ptolemy's list of provinces, towns, and other places as they existed in the Classical period to the modern geographical outline of the coasts, rivers, and mountains. That is, he produced "historical maps." (Compare the mountain ranges and rivers on item 4 with those in item 1.) Although Sylvanus sought to update Ptolemy's work without adding new maps, other map makers and publishers such as Abraham Ortelius (see 5) argued that Sylvanus had in fact subverted the intent of Ptolemy's work. Sylvanus's work is also notable as one of the very first to be printed in more than one color. While the towns and geographical features are in black, kingdoms, provinces, and seas are identified in red. All the other colored maps in this exhibition were printed in black and were then hand-colored by artists and guild craftsmen.

BERNARDUS SYLVANUS
Italian, fl.1490-1511
SECVNDA EVROPAE TABVLA
From: CLAUDIUS PTOLEMAEUS GEOGRAPHIA . . .
Venice, JACOBUS PENTIUS de LEUCHO, 1511
Woodcut, printed in two colors, 41.2 x 49.7 cm.

4.0001