Catalog Archive
Auction 179, Lot 4

Scarce Woodcut Version of Ortelius’ World Map

"Typus Orbis Terrarum", Belleforest, Francois

Subject: World

Period: 1575 (published)

Publication: La Cosmographie Universelle de Tout le Monde…

Color: Hand Color

19.5 x 13.2 inches
49.5 x 33.5 cm
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This striking world map is a woodcut copy of Ortelius' 1570 map with the same title (see Shirley #122). Placed on a cloud background, the map shows North America as much too wide and South America retains the unusual bulged southwestern coastline. At the poles, a prominent Northwest Passage snakes its way south of the four islands making up the arctic regions, and a huge Terra Australis Nondum Cognita makes up the imaginary southern continent. A notation next to New Guinea notes that it is unknown if this large island is a part of the southern continent. Belleforest has replaced Ortelius' quotation from Cicero with a French title below the map. The fact that Belleforest achieved such a high quality, detailed woodcut map is impressive, as many of his contemporaries were already engraving on copperplates, which typically yielded much more precise maps. This map is arguably one of the finest woodcut maps carved prior to printed maps shifting almost entirely to intaglio copperplate engravings in the early 16th century. This map was published in Belleforest's French translation of Sebastian Munster's Cosmographia. There was only one edition of Belleforest’s Cosmographie, thus the map is scarce and seldom available on the market. Instructions to the binder are included in the top left blank margin.

References: Shirley #135; Pastoureau, Belleforest #I-1, [1].

Condition: A

A crisp impression, issued folding on a bright sheet with a bunch of grapes watermark. There are a couple of spots in the image and a short fold separation in the top blank margin that has been closed with archival tape on verso. There is soiling along the top edge of the sheet and some minor creases in the top blank margin.

Estimate: $4,500 - $5,500


Closed on 9/16/2020