Some, to beautify their Halls, Parlors, Chambers, Galeries, Studies, or Libraries . . . liketh, loveth, getteth, and useth, Maps, Charts and Geographicall Globes. John Dee (about 1570)
Maps are graphic representations or images of the earth or heavens, or parts thereof. As pictures of the earth they are analogous to landscape paintings. The problem of depicting a three-dimensional world on a flat surface is common to both maps and conventional art and is addressed by the same mathematical approach, called “projection” by mapmakers and “perspective” by artists.
Maps and conventional art are both created by many of the same processes, including drawing, painting, woodcut, engraving, etching, and lithography. Both forms of graphic art have historically been produced in the same workshops and by the same craftsmen. A “text book” for artists, published in London in 1769, was titled, “The Art of Painting in Oyl, to which is added the whole art and mystery of colouring maps.”
A number of maps have been created by recognized artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer. The first three maps in this exhibition were made by individuals who are better known as artists than as mapmakers.