Catalog Archive
Auction 184, Lot 4

Scarce Woodcut Version of Ortelius’ World Map

"Typus Orbis Terrarum", Belleforest, Francois

Subject: World

Period: 1575 (circa)

Publication: La Cosmographie Universelle de Tout le Monde…

Color: Black & White

19.6 x 13.2 inches
49.8 x 33.5 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

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 sharp impression on a bright sheet with a bunch of grapes watermark, issued folding and now flattened with archival repairs to a few tiny holes along the folds. There is a small spot in Terra Australis at far right, and some light soiling and foxing in the blank margins. A few tiny worm holes in the blank margins have been archivally infilled. Remnants of hinge tape on verso.

Estimate: $3,750 - $4,750

Sold for: $2,500

Closed on 9/15/2021