Catalog Archive
Auction 194, Lot 378

Early Example of Ortelius' Map of the Arctic with Mythical Islands in Contemporary Color

"Septentrionalium Regionum Descrip.", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Arctic & Northern Europe

Period: 1572 (published)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

19.4 x 14.3 inches
49.3 x 36.3 cm
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Ortelius based this influential map on the work of earlier authorities including Mercator, Zeno and Magnus. Of particular interest are the mythical islands of Brasil, Frisland, Drogeo, Icaria, and St. Brendan. Part of Mercator's imaginary polar continent is depicted with a Latin note that it is inhabited by pygmies. Iceland (Islant, Thule) is basically unchanged from Mercator's map of Europe from 1554 with the shape originated by Zeno. Greenland is separated from Europe by a wide sea and a portion of North America appears in the upper left corner with the name Estotilant. The map is adorned with a variety of very inventive creatures including a half-man, half-sea creature playing a lute. This is the second state with a triangular dot after the title and German text on verso with page number 45.

References: Burden #40; Ginsberg #24; Van den Broecke #160.

Condition: B+

A nice impression with full contemporary color on a bright sheet with a coat of arms watermark emblazoned with the initial "B." There is very light soiling and a dampstain at bottom center with archival repairs to a short centerfold separation and to a couple of tiny tears.

Estimate: $2,300 - $2,750

Sold for: $2,300

Closed on 9/13/2023