Catalog Archive
Auction 150, Lot 5

"Theatrum Orbis Terrarum", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Title Pages

Period: 1588 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

9.1 x 14.5 inches
23.1 x 36.8 cm
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Abraham Ortelius is considered the father of the atlas as we know it today because he compiled and published the first set of maps, conforming in size and format, of all parts of the world. The title page to this first atlas of 'modern' maps, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the Whole World), was probably designed by Frans Hogenberg who worked on many of the maps in the atlas. The architectural framework includes five female figures with attributes representing the five regions of the known world - a concept that was to be used and expanded upon by cartographers throughout history. At the top is Europa with her Christian attributes, obviously reigning over the world. To the left of the title is the figure of Asia holding an incense burner and on the other side is Africa, heat rising from her head and holding a sprig of balsam from Egypt. At the foot of the title is America represented by an Amazonian warrior. The severed head suggests the cannibalism practiced among the natives of South America. Finally there is the truncated figure of Magellanica representing unexplored lands of Terra Incognita. The fire beneath the bust corresponds to the fires sighted by Magellan and hence the lands he named Tierra del Fuego. The Theatrum was published in numerous editions with text in various languages.

References: Shirley (TP) #9.

Condition: B

An old colored example on watermarked paper with moderate soiling and a professionally repaired tear that extends 2" through the bottom left corner of the image. There are several chips in the blank margins that have also been professionally repaired.

Estimate: $350 - $425


Closed on 9/17/2014