6. Mapping the Heavens & Earth


35. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1575

Abraham Ortelius’s world map was part of a bound volume of maps titled Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World), now considered the first world atlas. Extending through thirty-three editions and translated into six languages, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum influenced European ideas about world geography, and, in particular, the geography of the Arctic. This world map was based on a large 21-sheet world map published the year before by Ortelius’ colleague, Gerard Mercator. It displays almost a century of European exploration in the Americas, delineating relatively accurate coast lines in the Equatorial areas, but with greatly distorted shapes in South America and North America. The map shows a southern polar continent that was theorized to exist, but had not yet been discovered.

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Abraham Ortelius, (1527 -1598)
Typus Orbis Terrarum

From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Antwerp, 1575
Smith Collection

36. Sphaera Stellifera Accurate Exhibens Dispositionem, 1606

This stunningly beautiful globe by Willem Janszoon Blaeu showcases cutting-edge 17th-century astronomy, featuring highly accurate observations of the Northern Hemisphere and the newly discovered constellations of the Southern sky, offered as heavenly proof of the success of the Dutch colonial enterprise. Before making this globe, Blaeu traveled to the island of Hven in Denmark. There he studied with Tycho Brahe, the preeminent astronomer of the period, whose detailed observations made possible Johannes Kepler’s discovery of the three laws of planetary motion. This globe relies on Tycho’s star catalogues to show the positions of the Northern stars. A portrait of the Danish astronomer is also prominently portrayed. Like other Dutch globemakers, Blaeu was inspired from animals brought back to Europe by seafarers, who navigated by celestial bodies. These living trophies affirmed to Blaeu and his peers that the exploration of distant lands and the charting of the skies were part of the same global enterprise.

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Willem Janszoon Blaeu, (1571 -1638)
Sphaera Stellifera Accurate Exhibens Dispositionem … auct. Giul. Ianssonio doctissimo clarissimoque viro D. Adriano Metior … Guil. Ianssonius 1606

Smith Collection

37. Speculum Orbis Terrarum, 1578

Engraved by Johannes Van Doetecum and Lucas Van Doetecum, De Jode’s world map is among the most significant atlas-contained world maps of the 16th-century. Based on Abraham Ortelius’ monumental eight-sheet map of the world published in Antwerp in 1564, this map was initially issued separately with a different title, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Descriptio.

The cartography of the map comes from a variety of sources. North America appears to be based upon Mercator’s 1541 terrestrial globe, with modern additions for discoveries in the northeast. The map is also likely influenced by Gastaldi’s 1561 world map, which incorporated the division between Asia and America.

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Gerard de Jode, (d. 1591)
Universi Orbis Seu Terreni Globi in plano effigies. cum provivilegio

From: Speculum Orbis Terrarum; Speculum Geographicum Totius Germaniae
Antwerp, 1578
Smith Collection

38. Neuester Himmels-Atlas, 1799

Goldbach was a professor of astronomy in Moscow and a member of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. His most notable atlas, designed for the use of amateurs and beginners, is an almost exact copy of the 1782 Bode Flamsteed, with two striking differences. The most obvious is that Goldbach’s star maps are white on a black background, which was achieved by printing the engraved plates in relief rather than in intaglio. The second modification is a matching plate provided on the facing page with the constellation figures omitted. While Goldbach’s atlas was not the first showing white stars against a dark background, it was the first of this kind to attract the attention of astronomical circles in Paris.

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Christoph Friedrich Goldbach, (1763 -1811)
Neuester Himmels-Atlas : zum Gebrauche für Schul- und akademischen Unterricht, nach Flamsteed, Bradley, Tob. Mayer, De La Caille, Le Français de La Lande und v. Zach, in einer neuen Manier, mit doppelten schwarzen Stern-Charten bearbeitet durchgehends verbessert und mit den neuesten astronomischen Entdeckungen vermehrt von C.F. Goldbach revidirt auf der Sternwarte Seeberg bey Gotha und mit einer Einleitung begleitet von Hrn. Obristwachtmstr. von Zach

Weimar, 1799
Smith Collection

39. A New Globe of the Earth, 1731

This globe is a fine example of the extremely popular 18th-century genre of pocket globes. Richard Cushee worked as a surveyor and globemaker in the Globe and Sun and in London. The gores for the celestial globe inside the case are concave, drawn as seen from the inside, so the figures are seen backwards. The constellations also include those introduced by Hevelius, such as the sharp-eyed Lynx next to the Great Bear.

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Richard Cushee
A New Globe of the Earth

London, 1731
Smith Collection

40. Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, 1603

First published in Augsburg in 1603, the Uranometria included celestial maps that were not only visually appealing, but also significant in the history of astronomy. They were the first charts to identify astral magnitude with a lettering system, using Greek characters for the brighter stars and Roman letters for the fainter. This lettering system is still used today for stars visible to the naked eye. Bayer’s atlas also added twelve new southern constellations to the forty-eight of Ptolemy.

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Johann Bayer, (1572 -1625)
Ioannis Bayeri Rhainani I.C. Vranometria : omnium asterismorum continens schemata, no a methodo delineata, aeris laminis expressa

Augsburg, 1603
Smith Collection

41. Carte tres curieuse de la mer du sud…, 1719

This map is extraordinary from two standpoints: its striking beauty and the vast amount of information it conveys. Although its geographic coverage extends from the Pacific coasts of Asia and Australia to the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa, its focus is clearly on the Americas. California is portrayed as an enormous island with rather vague northern borders, and a superimposed legend notes that some “moderns” believe it to be connected to the mainland. This map also contains numerous historical notes and tracks of explorers’ routes across the oceans.

The most striking feature of this map is its lavish decoration, arranged primarily around the borders in an intricate mosaic-like pattern. Separated by delicate rococo borders are individual decorative elements in the form of geographic insets, city plans, panoramas, bird’s-eye views, miniature portraits, and vignettes of various sorts. Color is effectively used to clarify and render the map more “readable.” While artistic effect was clearly a primary consideration, the detailed images are rich in geographic, historic, ethnographic, cultural, and ecologic content. Some images are unabashedly commercial or political in nature. Among the more notable images are a view of a beaver colony (copied from de Fer), an American Indian hunting scene, medallion portraits of explorers accompanied by brief biographies on banners, a representation of the codfish industry (also copied from De Fer), and views of the Strait of Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope (the only two non-American decorative images on the map). Across the bottom is an encyclopedic collection of images, including numerous views and plans of cities and harbors of the New World, depictions of a sugar mill and a silver mine, and vignettes of an Aztec temple and ritual sacrifice. Illustrations of exotic trees, fruits and vegetables, and birds are used to form or embellish demarcations between scenes.

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Henri Abraham Chatelain, (1684 -1743)
Carte tres curieuse de la mer du sud, contenant des remarques nouvelles et tres utiles non seulement sur les ports et iles de cette mer : mais aussy sur les principaux pays de l”Amerique tant Septentrionale que Meridionale, avec les noms & la route des voyageurs par qui la decouverte en a t‚ faite

Amsterdam, 1719
Osher Collection

42. Creatio Universi, 1720

Although this depiction of the creation of the universe is from a Bible, its only religious symbolism consists of the Tetragrammaton (Hebrew name of God in the Old Testament) at the top center. The remaining images illustrate various scientific concepts of the universe, including the ancient Greek concept of concentric spheres surrounding the earth (upper left). The large central image is a surprisingly accurate diagram of the sun-centered solar system, contradicting the traditional biblical teaching of an earth-centered universe. Forming the outer border of this system is the Zodiac, a zone of the heavens through which the sun, moon, and planets travel. Its name derives from the Greek word for animals since many of the constellations it passes through are traditionally pictured as animals. As seen here, the Zodiac is divided into twelve equal arcs, each named after a different constellation.

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Tigur Melchior Fuesslinus
Johannes Andreas Pfeffel, (1674 -1750)
Creatio Universi

Augsburg, 1720
Smith Collection

43. Tabula Anemographica Seu Pixis Nautica Ventorum, 1680

Over the centuries, an increased diversity of names for the winds and ambiguity about the direction from which they derive resulted in a multitude of different wind systems. To create order out of the tangled confusion of names and directions, cartographers produced anemographic charts or wind roses, such as this 1650 chart by Jan Jansson. Thirty-two points (directions) are shown and labeled with various directional names for the winds. To seafarers plying the waters of the open oceans, however, a wind blowing from Thrace (Thracias) lost all relevance in defining direction. Eventually, the wind rose, overburdened by a multiplicity of names and obtuse symbolism, gave way to the today’s directional system of north, east, south, west, and their intermediate compounds. Note at the perimeter of the ring the fledgling emergence of a more abstract directional system–degrees of arc of a circle. Even here, the cartographer is unable to resist introducing variations. In the areas surrounding the ring, each wind is personified by a figure bearing the racial characteristics associated with the region or direction represented. The upper left quadrant, representing north, depicts bearded Germans or Scandinavians. The upper right, representing east, shows beardless dark skinned faces. The beardless and pale skinned figures in the lower left and right, representing west and south, are less distinguishable but are possibly intended to represent indigenous Americans and Greeks.

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Jan Jansson, (1558-1664)
Tabula Anemographica Seu Pixis Nautica Ventorum nomina sex linguis repraesentans

Amsterdam, 1680
Smith Collection