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Lot number: 33079
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Publisher: ANONYMOUS
Title: Abrahamus Ortelius Antuerpianus cosmographus natus a. MDXXVII
Published: Antwerp, c.1650

Size: 5.3 x 3.8 inches.
13.5 x 9.7 cm.
Colouring: Uncoloured.
Condition:  Cut on neat line and pasted on a larger sheet of paper.
 Condition Rating

Portrait of Abraham Ortelius (Abraham Ortel), famous cartographer born in Antwerp and after studying Greek, Latin and mathematics set up business there with his sister, as a book dealer and 'painter of maps'. Travelling widely, especially to the great book fairs, his business prospered and he established contacts with the literati in many lands.
On one such visit to England, possibly seeking temporary refuge from religious persecution, he met William Camden whom he is said to have encouraged in the production of the Britannia.

A turning-point in his career was reached in 1564 with the publication of a World Map in eight sheets of which only one copy is known: other individual maps followed and then - at the suggestion of a friend - he gathered together a collection of maps from contacts among European cartographers and had them engraved in uniform size and issued in 1570 as the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Atlas of the Whole World). Although Lafreri and others in Italy had published collections of 'modern' maps in book form in earlier years, the Theatrum was the first uniformly sized, systematic collection of maps and hence can be called the first atlas, although that term itself was not used until twenty years later by Mercator.

The Theatrum, with most of its maps elegantly engraved by Frans Hogenberg, was an instant success and appeared in numerous editions in different languages including addenda issued from time to time incorporating the latest contemporary knowledge and discoveries. The final edition appeared in 1612. Unlike many of his contemporaries Ortelius noted his sources of information and in the first edition acknowledgement was made to eighty-seven different cartographers.

Apart from the modern maps in his major atlas, Ortelius himself compiled a series of historical maps known as the Parergon Theatri which appeared from 1579 onwards, sometimes as a separate publication and sometimes incorporated in the Theatrum.

  • 1570 Theatrum Orbis Terrarum 1570-1612 Between these years the Theatrum was re-issued in 42 editions with 5 supplements with text in Latin, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Italian and English. The English edition was published in 1606 by John Norton, the maps being printed in Antwerp and the text added in London. Three years after Ortelius died in 1598, his heirs transferred publication rights to Jan Baptiste Vrients who produced the later editions until he died in 1612
  • 1577-85 Spiegel der Werelt (8vo) Maps from the Theatrum, reduced in size, engraved by Philip Galle: text by Pieter Heyns. 6 editions with Dutch, French and Latin text. 1588-i 603 Epitome theatri orbis terrarum (12mo-8v0) 11 further editions of the smaller maps with an increasing number of maps with text also in Italian and English (1603). I6oi-i 2 7 further editions with improved engravings by Arsenius Brothers: text by Michel Coignet in Latin, French, German, Italian and English (1603). 1598-1724 Theatro del Mondo (4t0/12mo/24mo) 8 editions with Italian text, plates engraved in Italy.
  • 1579-1606 Parergon Theatri The number of maps included in the Parergon increased from 4 in 1579 to 43 in 1606 with text in Latin, French, Italian, German and English (1606) 1624 Re-issued in Antwerp as a separate publication by Balthasar Moretus. This edition included a reproduction of the Peutinger table.


  • List of Explorers and Mapmakers [+]


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Item category: Cartographic Curiorities | Mapmakers










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