Adina Sommer`s Rare Antique Maps and Contemporary Art

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

  • Translation

Article ID T0142
Artist Ortelius (1527-1598)
Abraham Ortelius, (1527 - 1598) Antwerp, comes from an Augsburg family and was born in Antwerp, Spain, where he lived throughout his life. After thorough training, he joined the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1547 as a card painter. In 1554 he took over an antiquarian bookshop that mainly deals with the coloring, distribution and publishing of maps. Basically he is more of a publisher than a scholar. And so he also made the acquaintance of another great man of his time, Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594), who encouraged him to draw cards and to make maps of the most varied of countries. His first cartographic work of his own is a large 8-sheet map of the world that appears in Antwerp in 1564. This is followed by a two-sheet map of Egypt (1565) and another of Asia (1567). The great achievement of Ortelius, who was one of the most famous European cartographers of his time, and the enthusiastic reception of his theater, mark a decisive turning point in the history of the world map. The new path is mapped out with the Theatrum. For the general view of the world, the appearance of Ortelius-Theatrum is important insofar as it emphatically confirms that America is a completely independent continent, which is also not connected to the Asian mainland mass at its northern tip. Ortelius was the first to come up with the idea of ​​producing a handy collection of reliable maps, all kept in the same format and only by the same author for each country. These sheets could also be bound into a book for easy storage and use. Mercator, who also realized the idea of ​​a world atlas from 1569, persuaded his friend to publish the famous Theatrum Orbis Terrarrum. Ortelius collected, traveled, corresponded and negotiated for 10 years before he could have his work printed in the best European printing house (Plantijn / Amsterdam). In addition to technical difficulties, Ortelius had to submit to the political / religious conditions, since maps were also subject to strict scrutiny during the Inquisition. Biblical scenes are pleasant, portraits of outstanding Catholics are welcome, but not family coats of arms or other emblems that could be politically suspect. On May 20, 1570, his first edition of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first collection of maps in book form, was published, financed and edited by Gillis Hooftman, an Antwerp merchant, banker and shipowner. Atlases did not yet have this name at that time. This collection was published between 1570 and 1612 in 42 editions and in 7 languages: Latin, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, English and Italian. Unlike his professional colleagues, he clearly referenced the sources of his maps and texts. The work contains, among other things, an illustration of the world known until 1492 and was therefore already looking back at the time the map was created.
Title Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Year ca. 1573
Description Frontispiece of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (also Ortelius Atlas). Antwerp: Anthonis Coppens van Diest, 1573.
The title page is one of the most important parts of the "front matter" or "preliminaries" of a book, as the data on it and its verso (together known as the "title leaf") are used to establish the "title proper and usually, though not necessarily, the statement of responsibility and the data relating to publication".This determines the way the book is cited in library catalogs and academic references. The title page often shows the title of the work, the person or body responsible for its intellectual content, and the imprint, which contains the name and address of the book's publisher and its date of publication. Particularly in paperback editions it may contain a shorter title than the cover or lack a descriptive subtitle. Further information about the publication of the book, including its copyright information, is frequently printed on the verso of the title page. The first printed books, or incunabula, did not have title pages: the text simply begins on the first page, and the book is often identified by the initial words—the incipit—of the text proper. Maps were usually published in atlases. And atlases were books with titles. And, again, titles were individual pieces of art. A publisher emphazised the importance of a book he published with a spectacular entrée. Usually the pictures of an atlas title page pertained in general to the subject matter: Measuring instruments, mythologigal, astronomical, religious, scientific, allegorical hints and facts were united in a composition which depicted the pride of progress in knowledge. An atlas title page often is just one superb artistic and jubilant cartouche.
Place of Publication Antwerp
Dimensions (cm)37 x 23 cm
ConditionPerfect condition
Coloringoriginal colored
TechniqueCopper print

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