Ortelius' Cornerstone Map of Africa
"Africae Tabula Nova", Ortelius, Abraham
Period: 1570 (dated)
Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Color: Hand Color
19.8 x 14.7 inches
50.3 x 37.3 cm
This striking map is one of the cornerstone maps of Africa and remained the standard map of Africa well into the seventeenth century. It was designed by Ortelius from elements of contemporary maps by Gastaldi, Mercator, and Forlani and used several recent sources: Ramusio in Navigationi et Viaggi (1550), Joao de Barros in Decadas da Asia (1552), and Leo Africanus in Historiale description de l'Afrique (1556). The majority of the nomenclature is taken from Gastaldi. The Nile is based on the Ptolemaic concept, originating from two large lakes south of the equator. Curiously Ortelius did not represent the Mountains of the Moon (a prominent feature on most prior maps) and the twin lakes are not named. Ortelius introduced two important changes to the shape of the continent on this map; the Cape of Good Hope is more pointed, and the eastward extension of the continent was reduced significantly. The map is decorated with a strapwork title cartouche, a grand sea battle (copied from Diego Gutierez' wall map of the Americas), and sea monsters. The presence of the ghost monster is barely visible in the sea off the Arabian peninsula. This beautiful map was engraved by Frans Hogenberg who engraved many of the maps for the Theatrum. This is the fifth state with a colon added after Oceanus Aethio and the emergence of a crack along the right-hand letters in the title cartouche. French text on verso, published in 1598.
References: Betz #12.5; Van de Broecke #8; Norwich #10.
A nice impression on watermarked paper with attractive color and several short centerfold separations that have been professionally repaired. Two tears that enter 1/2" to 1" into image at bottom right have been expertly and nearly invisibly repaired.