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Publisher: OLIVA, F.
Title: Portulan atlas on vellum of the Mediterrean with 10 maritime charts.
Published in: Marseille, 1658
   
Size: 6.1 x 4.0 inches.
15.5 x 10.2 cm.
Colouring:

In original colours.
Condition: Printed on vellum in black with many initials hand painted in red, blue and gold. Vellum at the edges slightly soiled, and initials faded.
Condition Rating

The first double page chart showing Turkey and Cyprus is signed and dated : "Franciscus Oliva / Me Fecit in Civita / Marsilia / Anno Domini / 1658". The chart is decorated with cartouches emblazoned with cherubs, a representation of the human-figured moon, while the African coast are decorated with a camel, palm trees, or even an ostrich. On the Libyan coast, three high golden crosses stand on top of three mountains. Sign of the wealth of this decoration, eleven Greek islands are entirely covered with gold.

This atlas contains 4 general charts for the Mediterranean, completed with very detailed individual charts for the main islands: Baleares, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Crete and Cyprus. The first 3 general charts are decorated with  rich ornaments: country emblems, wind roses, floral motifs, stars and monuments; we also note some palms in Africa. The large charts of Corsica and Sicily, for example, have coastlines hightened in red and blue.

The last chart is a much more "modern" general chart of the Mediterenean and is very special with a more detailed and updated representation of the coastlines. The lack of decoration could be an indication that the chart was produced for a ship's captain or for the office of a mercantile clientele. The chart is orientated with south to the top.
Very few examples of such charts are known and some experts presume they are unfinished works — they show only color-highlighted coastlines, without any place names or wind directions — are covered by a fine grid of small squares that have nothing to do with geographical meridians or parallels (apparently drawn in lead pencil, they seem to have been intended to be temporary and erasable).
The 1658 atlas that Jean François Roussin drew up in Toulon also contains a chart of the Mediterranean with a fine grid of squares instead of a network of wind rhumbs: however, this chart does have place-names and scrolls bearing the names of the continents (all that is missing is an indication of scale and the usual decorative features).

South to the top
The chart of Sicily has south on the top. Very early Egyptian maps show South on top. This could be because of the northwards flow of the Nile and since rivers were believed to be flowing “downwards”, they thought that “up” was South. The Chinese, who were the first to invent the compass, also often drew maps with South on top because they always thought the compass pointed to South.
Even map makers in Arabia often drew maps with South on top. The Islamic maps favoured South since the initial Islamic habitations were north of Mecca, so a South-oriented map would show the followers looking up towards it.
Europeans learnt map making from the Arabs and things started changing with the age of exploration somewhere in the Mediterranean regions — the link between Europe and Arabia. However, the 14th and 15th century navigational maps charting out sea routes — which were designed for the mariners — had no real top or bottom. They had pictures and words pointing at all directions with a compass rose with North clearly distinguished.

List of charts in this atlas: (Double page charts are 410 x 670mm. and single page 410 x 335mm. Each chart drawn in black ink, gouache and enhanced with liquid gold, on parchment pasted on thick cardboard.)

1. Double page chart: Mediterranean: Greece and Asia Minor with the coasts of Africa; in a cartouche on the lower right corner: "Franciscus Oliva / Me Fecit in Civita / Marsilia / Anno Domini / 1658".
2. Double page chart: Mediterranean: Italy, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, with the Adriatic and North African coasts
3. Double page chart: Mediterranean: Portugal, Spain, France, Balearic Islands with the coasts of the Mediterranean 'Africa.
4. Single page chart: Malta.
5. Single page chart: Balearic Islands.
6. Double page chart: Sicily. The chart is orientated with south to the top.
7. Double page chart: Corsica and Sardinia
8. Single page chart: Crete (Candia)
9. Single page chart : Cyprus
10. Double page chart : Complete Mediterranean

Provenance : Les Collections Aristophil / Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, Paris, France.



Francesco Oliva II (François Ollive)
The Olivas, a family of Catalan chartmakers, produced their first chart in Majorca before 1550. The family is famed for its output of fine sea-charts in the mediaeval portolan tradition, both as separate charts and assembled into chart-books. Charts signed by at least 16 members of the Oliva family are recorded, with dates between 1538 and 1673.
The charts were produced in a number of ports, including Majorca, Messina, Livorno, Florence, Venice, Malta, Palermo and Marseilles.
This decorative style, which began in the 15th century, flourished in the mid- to late-16th-century particularly in Southern Spain, Majorca, Marseilles and Genoa.
Francesco Oliva II was active in Marseilles from 1650 in the later part of his life, he began to sign himself “François Ollive”
It should also be pointed out that in these later works the east-west axis of the Mediterranean has been corrected and Gibraltar, Crete, and Cyprus are almost aligned with each other — a sure sign that Francesco Oliva took pains to keep his work up to date. There are also a surprising number of anonymous charts and atlases that bear striking stylistic similarities to Olliva’s work.

Recorded examples of Francesco Oliva II atlases
Very few complete chart books by Francesco Oliva are recorded; one was owned by cardinal Mazarin, and we find a listing of "Portulan du Mediterranée, par François Olive, 1645" on the inventory list compiled by Naudé in Mélanges Colbert, of manuscripts sold to the royal library (now BNF) by Colert's grandson in 1733.
- The oldest extant work by Francesco Oliva of Marseilles is a five-sheet atlas that bears the inscription “Franciscus Oliva me fecit in civitate Marsiliae anno 1650” (London, British Library, Add. MS. 17276).
- In the same year he produced a three-sheet atlas (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library, MS. Dc. 1.40.),
- while two years later he drew up the three nautical charts that are today bound together in a single atlas with nine charts by Jean François Roussin (Treviso, Biblioteca Comunale, MS. 1683 and Treviso, Biblioteca Comunale, MS. 1562).
- This atlas with 10 charts, signed and dated : "Franciscus Oliva / Me Fecit in Civita / Marsilia / Anno Domini / 1658"
- There followed a five-sheet atlas dated 1658 (Barcelona, Museu Maritim, Inv. 10257),
- a four sheet atlas (Bilbao, Sociedad Bilbaana, Port. nn. 1-2-3-4)
- and a three-sheet atlas (Marseilles, Bibliothéque Municipale Saint-Charles, MSS. 1663 /1665), both from 1661.
- There is also a small two-sheet atlas dated 1659 and simply signed with the initials F. O. (Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana,It IV 183 5074), which should undoubtedly be attributed to the same cartographer.

In later part of his cartographer’s life, he began to sign himself “François Ollive,” including the two 1662 charts (Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale de France, S.H. Archives n°43 and Rés. Ge A 850) and a 1664 chart (9 NA 23).
It should also be pointed out that in these later works the east-west axis of the Mediterranean has been corrected and Gibraltar, Crete, and Cyprus are almost aligned with each other — a sure sign that François Ollive took pains to keep his work up to date.
There are also a surprising number of anonymous charts and atlases that bear striking stylistic similarities to Ollive’s work.

This atlas is by far the largest (10 charts) recorded atlas and one of the earliest dated (1658) and signed examples.

Recorded examples of separate charts
A handful single nautical charts are kept in public librairies or are sold at auction;
- A single chart, extracted from a nautical atlas circa 1660, attributed to François II Oliva has been sold in London, Sotheby's, November 15, 2012, lot 207 (Result £ 79,250). This unsigned chart depicts the western approaches to the Mediterranean, from Scotland and Jutland in the north, southwards approximately as far as the northern tip of the Cape Verde islands, and extending into the Mediterranean to include the Balearic Islands and Marseilles.

- In the Sotheby's catalog this chart has been compared to another extracted but signed and dated 1661 chart who is kept in the Sociedad Bilbaìna (see Portolans procedures of Colleccions Espanyoles Seves XV-XVII (Barcelona, ​​1995), p.259, chart 52-1)].

- The BnF, Department of Maps and Plans, keeps three leaves from a nautical atlas, the second of which is signed and dated: "Franciscus Oliva fecit me en civitate Marsilia. 1661 "(Paris, BnF, Maps and Plans, digitized in Gallica) and others dated 1662 (BnF, Maps and Plans, CPL GE D-6589 (RES)).

- Christies, New York, sold 5 december, 2008 (lot 200) an attributed portolan chart of the Mediterranean possibly Jouanne or Francisco Oliva, late 16th- early 17th century for US$ 158,500].

- A half page chart of the eastern Mediterranean with grid by Francesco Oliva, Marseilles, 1658. (52 x 34 cm.) is kept in Museu Marítim, Barcelona (inv. 10257).

Interesting reading :
- "The first witnesses of a Marseille hydrography are contemporaries of the commercial deployment of the port in the direction of Echelles, in the sixteenth century" (M. Mollat ​​du Jourdin and M. de La Ronciére, Les Portulans, no 74).
- Michel Mollat du Jourdin, Moniqiue de la Ronciëre, Les portulans Cartes marines du XIIIe au XVIIe siècle., pp. 262, 263.
- Corradino Astengo , Cartography in the European Renaissance, 7 The Renaissance Chart Tradition in the Mediterranean.
- R. D. O. [Oldham], “Francesco Oliva the Younger,” Geographical Journal 77 (1931): 204–205.
- Richard L. Pflederer, Finding Their Way at Sea: The Story of Portolan Charts, the Cartographers who Drew Them and the Mariners who Sailed by Them, (Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2012).





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Lot number: 42118

OLIVA, F. - Portulan atlas on vellum of the Mediterrean with 10 maritime charts.
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Price :$ 575,000
Approx. Euro 523,250  

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